NUM labels Sibanye-Stillwater retrenchments “punishment” for three-month strike

Miners at Beatrix gold mine Source: Sibanye-Stillwater

THE National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) described Sibanye-Stillwater’s restructuring plans in which hundreds of workers could be laid off as “punishment” for a three month strike at its gold mines.

Fin24 quoted a union statement earlier today as saying: “The NUM cannot dismiss the fact that this is a form of punishment for the strike period in which gold sector workers, through their unity, secured a reasonable victory in terms of wages and working conditions.

“This is capitalist barbarism at its best”.

Sibanye-Stillwater said on Tuesday it may have to retrench up to 1,959 employees as its Beatrix 4 shaft and Kloof 1 plant were losing money.

“It has become increasingly evident that, due to increasing costs and an inability to achieve targeted productivity levels, it will be difficult to secure the profitability levels required for the sustainability of the mine and plant,” the gold and platinum group metals miner said.

NUM said it was shocked but not surprised as it “expected such a kind of brutal and heartless behaviour coming from Sibanye-Stillwater”.

The union added that Sibanye-Stillwater planned to repurpose Beatrix 4 to mine uranium with an intention to use subcontractors.

Sibanye-Stillwater has flagged its interest in exposure to uranium as it expects demand for the chemical element, which is critical for nuclear power generation, will continue to grow amid global decarbonisation efforts, said Fin24.

Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson James Wellsted, told the publication it was exploring the opportunity to mine uranium at Beatrix 4 because – with higher prices – an economic case might be made for it now.