AMCU delivers 48-hour strike ultimatum to Sibanye-Stillwater as wage talks stall

SIBANYE-Stillwater’s gold mining travails of 2018 may not yet be at an end, according to Bloomberg News which today reported the possibility of a strike at the gold firm’s facilities citing statements on a union Twitter feed.

The Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU) is reported to have said: “AMCU has decided to go on strike.” Sibanye-Stillwater would be given 48 hours to come back with a better offer, said Bloomberg citing the Twitter feed.

James Wellsted, head of investor relations for Sibanye-Stillwater, told Miningmx the company had received a demand for an improved offer or face a strike in two days.

AMCU was granted a strike certificate in September after talks deadlocked with Sibanye-Stillwater. On November 14, the company signed three-year wage agreements with three other unions including the National Union of Mineworkers.

In that agreement, Sibanye-Stillwater agreed to raise the basic wage for most categories of surface and underground employees by R700 a month in each of the first two years and by R825 in the third. Housing allowance and medical benefits were also increased.

It has been a thoroughly horrible year for Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mining operations in South Africa which was hit by a major seismic event in April. The event knocked out a large section of the firm’s Masakhane shaft at Driefontein mine. The cost of rehabilitating the shaft was estimated to be R500m, the company said.

In its third quarter production update published on November 1, Sibanye-Stillwater said 2018 output would be between 1.13 and 1.16 million ounces, lower than the 1.17 to 1.21 million oz in previous guidance.

Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater, has warned in the past that the company is prepared for a strike at its gold facilities which are currently loss-making. The company has taken out significant gold hedges to protect revenue but the question of the mines’ long-term feasibility has been posed.

“Whatever the ounce plan we come up, we will make sure we come up with a cost structure that is profitable,” said Froneman of the company’s approach to assessing the feasibility of its gold mines. “We are not going to run a business that is inefficient or ineffective. We are not asset huggers. We have given serious consideration to our under-performing gold business which has been primarily due to safety issues,” he said.

“We’ve had a long, hard look to see whether they are solvable. We believe they are and we believe there is real value in the gold business. It is not apparent in these results. If our gold business continues to under-perform there’s no reason why we should be in it. But we have got real value and it will become apparent,” he said.

17 COMMENTS

  1. This comment was edited in line with Miningmx’s code.
    Editor.

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    Again, when i commented on the misleading article about SGL union agreement, the Editor chose to censor me. Now what? …Is the Editor still of an opinion that my comments where violating the code of conduct which he has not published?

    The facts are that Froneman is self-destructing. His approach to Labour relations is 1980s stuff that is counter-productive. There is absolutely NO logic to them holding out as long as they dids, because now SGL got a lousy deal with its unions.

    Now AMCU is about to deliver a harsh lesson , when debt covenants headroom is so precarious!

    • Comment modified in terms of Miningmx policy.
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      Amcu is about to deliver a harsh lesson, for and against them, but this will be the end.

  2. Comment modified in terms of Miningmx policy.

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    I guess the time has come for Neal and the board to finally answer the question on whether this is worth the trouble. It is time to close these operations and get rid of the South African gold mines once and for all. There is nothing positive flowing out of South Africa, all of the safety concerns, specifically 20 odd fatalities in a year and constant harassment from Government, Unions, the DMR, and the Unions who force all other people to stop working through intimidation. I feel sorry for all the families, especially the children who will go hungry, but there is no other way… This will be the tragic end of a glorious gold mining industry….

  3. AMCU members should be saving their money and working with Management for better terms, they don’t need a Union, just a strong bargaining council that would not cost much, if at all.

    • Nonsense, this is undermining workers rights! What exists is collective bargaining!

      United , workers have a better chance of pursuing their rights and improving their working conditions.

      Whats noteworthy, is that when Mynwerker Unie in the early 1980s used the same tactics , none of this was called for then ! Why now? Is it because its now black workers who are seeking better working conditions?

      Mynwerker Unie went on a nation strike for safeguarding job reservation due to 2x coloured people being appointed artisans in Palaborwa Mining in 1980. Imagine , a country-wide strike for protesting against 2x people being appointed artisans !

      Solidary/Afriforum will wish for us not to bring this up now!

      • Have you considered establishing your very own political party, comrade BS?
        Then you will find the audience you so desperately seek – fulfill your true calling – VIVA!!

      • Dear Goldspeculator, you are the only racist here. No one else mentions race. Next you will be blaming the Indian Cabal….

  4. Anonymous……We have many political parties in RSA, do you still need another one?

    I have all the audience i desire on miningmx.com…..NO MORE!

    One thing you cannot discourage me from doing , is sharing my opinions…about all manner of things! More especially on your pet-peeve ( My comments on HMY !).

    • It still hits home though…
      Other readers demand it thereafter!

      See the Acacia/GoT matter for instance. The editor backed down after readers demanded him to publish the root cause as per the Goldspeculator. Await the next instalment of gold mining Steinhof ( that will be HMY for me & you)!

  5. Race does not need to mentioned ….BUT implied! More especially by racists masquerading as concerned south africans, who will deem such as normal given their stilted bilious bigotry. They have no sense of compunction when it comes to Black South Africans. To them , we will forever be their existential enemy….so i simply return the favour! In their view, they cannot go through life without subjugating us!

    I will counter such always with vigour.

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