Sibanye-Stillwater could offer unions “a back door” to end 10-week gold strike, says CEO

Neal Froneman, CEO, Sibanye-Stillwater

SIBANYE-Stillwater would provide unions with “a back door” in order to end the strike at the firm’s gold mines which will have run for 10 weeks on Thursday.

“They need to find a back door to step out of. We will help them, but it’s not about increasing the number,” said Froneman of Sibanye-Stillwater’s last offer of a R850 per month increase for entry level employees.

In the past mining companies have offered unions an ex-gratia payment or restructuring the agreement such that union demands are met in its final year. There was also the option of constructing a longer pay agreement term such as five years.

“We have been through this for nine or 10 months,” he said of wage negotiations. “You shouldn’t go into a strike unless you are absolutely sure that you are not going to infringe on the rights of your members.

“It’s incumbent on the unions to find a solution to their own problems. We will help them but it’s not about raising the number,” he said.

Froneman said his company was not under pressure to conclude a deal with unions at its gold mines as it could survive a strike “for years and years”.

“But that’s not what we are trying to do. We are extremely concerned about the fact our employees are not receiving their pay,” he said.

Employees had been back-paid their salaries to end-March despite the no work no pay rule that exists in South African law, but employee cash funds were depleting, he said.

“My executive feels that we are doing the wrong thing because by paying back pay you provide striking workers to go on longer,” said Froneman. “But that is not the point. We have done a poll and about 85% of our employees accept this wage offer.”

Sibanye-Stillwater amended its previous final offer to an increase of R850 more per month for entry-level Category 4 miners for each of the three years of the proposed agreement. The offer amounted to a 7.8% increase to the basic wage in year one, 7.2% in year two and 6.8% in year three.

Froneman said there was no moving from this point despite the fact unions were asking for R1,000/month wage increase for entry level employees.

23 COMMENTS

  1. I am so glad they are sticking to their guns. Too long the unions have degraded the SA mining industry into a speck of dust of what it used to be. The strikes are killing the economy and this government does nothing about it. I just wish they’d stopped paying them because as reported, this will fuel the strike to last longer. Sibunye should look into automation and get rid of a bulk of the workforce.

  2. We are leader less in this country, the modern slave masters are enriching themselves at the expense of cheap Labour…. it’s about time poor people rise up…

  3. Stick to your guns Neal, workers and Unions need to again realise that striking in a country with 40%+ unemployment is beyond stupid. Unions need to break up and be banned.

  4. Where is gold mines,and if I know a area rich in rodeum and irdoem how can I submit samples to see if that is what it is

  5. People are about to lose their houses and cars let alone school fees for kids. This is too much they must end this and just accept the offer, because what they are doing is not helping anyone instead people are going to lose their jobs in the end and they might end up even losing the same offer that is on the table.

    • Look at the bigger picture lerato. We are not fighting for R200. We are fighting for a better life for our children. You are crying about loosing a house and a car. Your kids a loosing their future. I mean if our kids can get proper education. Proper education I mean private school. What can happen when they finish school. We can have engineers accountants and doctors. A proper future for this country. But because the money we are earning can’t sustain that we are raising another slaves to work for fronemans kids in the future. Look at the bigger picture

    • I 1000% agree with Lukhele,as black people we need to stop putting our poverty in front because that’s what makes us week and undermined.we need to follow the footsteps of Nelson Mandela who secrefised his freedom,his family for the nation.
      I say to each and every employee of sibanye unity is power

  6. This thing if frustrating because there is nothing going on some family members are hungry cabanga ngelani abantwana. I’m sure union members have something to feed their families pay transport for kids to school while workers are suffering accept this 850 it’s better than nothing and things go back to normal

  7. Sibanye stillwater has values they call them cares values. But clearly those value are for the workers not basic principles of sibanye. If shareholders and the ceo respect these value they would care about the future of their employees. How can the ceo get R300 000 000 as a bonus and fail to give their employees R1000 increase. The salary the employees are getting right now can sustain their basic needs. They can’t afford to buy grocery,a house and take their kids to proper school. So sibanye want us to be their slave and and our kids as well. They don’t want a black child to get a proper education cause if they do no one will go and dig their gold tomorrow. They want a black child to be a slave forever.

    • @Penual Lukhele the only winners in a prolonged strike are the unions and union bosses because they make no sacrifice in the strike & dont advise their members or negotiate for a win-win but happy to keep the strike going at no cost to them. When its over they like to say look what we did for our members…what did they do? Make the members suffer & lose a good salary for months to get an unreasonable increase. Then increase membership fees. What does the union do the rest of the year? Can we know how much they collect & how much the union boss earns? Do they give the workers allowance or support their needs during a strike? No…

      R300m was not a bonus, it’s from shares that grew in value to pay dividends. Anyone can buy shares in sibanye, workers were offered shares long ago but refused, if they had taken it they would have got dividends too.

      Sibyane is paying market related rates to its workers. Instead of demanding for unreasonable salary and increases, ask why the govt which collects taxes from you doesnt provide services like good education.

      If the cleaning staff, mine workers, managers must all get the same salary in a business then the responsibility/type of work does not matter then everyone will get lowest, not the highest…have you asked how much union bosses and managers earn compared to other union staff? The union collects fees from its members but does not even publish its financials…all Sibanye’s financials are available to the public…unions have become places kf corruption where union bosses benefit from the suffering of workers.

      If you are serious about the bigger picture and future of your children, then wake up and ask the right questions, realise that unions are using you, not fighting for you and vote for change to have a govt and leaders that put the interests of the citizens first.

  8. Such a toxic environment introduced to this industry by leadership arrogance. When you are privileged ( and not necessarily deserving by the way) to be in a leadership position of any kind, you should use your position to contribute to making the world a better place.

  9. Neal must never give in to people that dont know how much yoi have done to open the mines closed by Cyril and his team

  10. Strange how things have developed, I wonder what value will this strike have considering that it has been going on for a long time, I remember in 2002 while I was working for one of the steel industry, we went on strike for a month and guess what? It took us almost 4 years to recover from lost wages.

  11. I am a worker from sibanye. I specifically told the unions that i cannot afford to strike.
    On 9 march the afternoon, I was informed by sibanye HR that my clocking will be locked out, I do not need to come to work. So I am sitting at home. Got blacklisted because I could not pay my debt. If sibanye lets me know I can come to work, I will be happy to do so. I did not want to strike. Personally I did not even care about an increase, I just wanted to be able to pay my debt.
    So whose fault is it that I am sitting at home?

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