AMCU threatens to take Sibanye-Stillwater’s PGM employees out in secondary strike

THE Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU) has threatened to heap pressure on Sibanye-Stillwater by asking members at platinum group metal (PGM) mines to support a strike at the firm’s gold mines.

“If Sibanye Gold continues not to accept the demand of the workers, we will definitely ask all our members in platinum operations to join a secondary strike,” Jimmy Gama chief negotiator and treasurer at AMCU told Bloomberg News.

Sibanye-Stillwater produced 1.84 million 4E ounces of PGMs and 1.1 million oz of gold from its South African operations in its 2021 financial year ended December 31.

AMCU and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) took members out on strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mines on March 9 after failing to reach an agreement after more than five months of negotiations.

The unions are aiming for a R1,000 per month increase in wages for entry level miners whereas Sibanye-Stillwater is offering R700/month extra. Solidarity and UASA, unions that had initially joined AMCU and NUM in a coalition, agreed to Sibanye-Stillwater’s terms.

Gama’s comments come ahead of wage negotiation season in the PGM sector. In addition to Sibanye-Stillwater, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) and Impala Platinum will be involved in the negotiations. AMCU and NUM will work together, Gama told the newswire.

Gama declined to disclose the union’s demands but said: “The platinum companies made huge profits in 2021 and they continue doing so”.

Union demands must be balanced “through future PGMs commodity price cycles and to avoid wage increases which could place many jobs at risk,” Nomonde Ndwalaza, a spokeswoman for Amplats told Bloomberg News. Amplats is 80% controlled by the UK-listed mining group, Anglo American.

Johannesburg-based miners announced record dividends after the price of palladium and rhodium – produced alongside platinum in South Africa – rallied. Still, the companies warn that a wage settlement with about 163,000 workers must not threaten the long-term viability of a key export industry, said the newswire.