A BLOW at the Sibanye-Stillwater gold mines was called off after unions were instructed by workers to end the three-month action.
This followed a mediation process which resulted in an agreement in which Sibanye-Stillwater will pay an average wage increase of 6.3% over three years.
“The strike is over, thank goodness,” said James Wellsted, senior vice president of corporate affairs at the gold and platinum group metals producer. “That’s very good news.”
A coalition of the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) met with members in Pretoria today to demand a mandate to end the strike which has affected around 31,000 employed in the mines west of Johannesburg and in the Free State.
The result of the agreement – which is due to be signed next week – is an increase of R1,000 per month in the basic salary of entry-level employees in the first year of the agreement, starting in July 2021. For second and third years, an R900/month and an increase of R750/month in wages was accepted by the unions.
The increases are for the basic salary only and do not apply to above-the-line items such as the living allowances that Sibanye-Stillwater had offered as part of its last raise of R850/month. The AMCU and NUM were seeking an increase of R1,150/month including living allowance as part of coalition demands.
In addition, Sibanye-Stillwater will pay an ex gratia amount of R3,000 to each employee, of which R1,200 is payable in cash now and the balance will be offset against debt incurred by employees such as tenants of the Sibanye property. -Stillwater.
Wellsted that it would “probably take about two months” before gold production at the mines was fully operational. Assuming the pay deal is signed next week, there will be a process of opening up work areas in the mines as well as checking employees for up-to-date health certificates. Retraining and rescreening for Covid-19 would also be required.
Sibanye-Stillwater produced 892,084 ounces of gold in its 2021 fiscal year.
Today’s ‘agreement’ did not require any changes to the wage offer or union demands, but rather complied with section 150 of South Africa’s Labor Relations Act, which allows the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to arbitrate a proposal.
Sibanye-Stillwater had asked the CCMA to mediate about two weeks ago.
The agreement, once signed, allows Sibanye-Stillwater to focus its full attention on wage negotiations with unions at its PGM mines. Discussions began this month.
Anglo American Platinum said on May 26 it had signed a five-year wage deal with unions that will increase total labor costs for the company by an average of 6.6% over the period.
Producer inflation in South Africa hit a record high in April. Prices for final manufactured goods increased by 13.1%, against 11.9% in March, said Bloomberg News citing data from Statistics South Africa.
It’s the highest rate since early 2013, when the statistics bureau split its producer price index and started reporting five different measures of factory gate prices, including the agriculture, mining, electricity and water, and intermediate manufactured goods, the newswire said.
Earlier this month, Rating agency Moody’s said inflation in South Africa is expected to reach 8% this yearexceeding the central bank’s target amid the global impact of the conflict in Ukraine and rising interest rates in the United States.