MINEWORKERS should not end up as the losers of strike action, said Cyril Ramaphosa, South African president and a founder of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
BusinessLive quoted the president as saying: “In the end we want an industry that continues to operate. Mineworkers must not end up being losers in all of this”. He was speaking at the NUM’s national congress on Wednesday.
Ramaphosa’s comments come as NUM enters a third week of strike action at the gold mines of Sibanye-Stillwater. The strike, called with the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU) followed about seven months of negotiations over wages.
Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said the firm’s last revised offer in December of a R700 per month increase for entry-level miners was final. The NUM and AMCU are seeking a R1,000/month increase which Sibanye-Stillwater said would load up the mines with R1bn a year in additional costs it could not ultimately support.
Before even two weeks of the strike had passed, entry-level employees had lost the economic benefit they would have received had Sibanye-Stillwater agreed to the unions’ R1,000 per month wage increase, according to Sibanye-Stillwater data.
If the strike extends for another week, employees will lose the benefit for a year of Sibanye-Stillwater having agreed to union demands.
While metal prices are strong across the board, Froneman said the era of paying above inflation wage increases was over.
“The South African mining sector is profitable and its contribution to employment creation and foreign exchange earnings for the country is positive,” the NUM said in a secretariat report cited by BusinessLive.