Sibanye-Stillwater faces strike at South Africa gold mines

Sibanye’s Kloof operation. (Image courtesy of Sibanye-Stillwater.)

South Africa’s long-divided mining unions have scored a win since forging a united front against the industry’s largest employer as the country’s labour arbitration body has cleared them to strike following failed wage negotiations with Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW)( NYSE: SBSW).

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which has been mediating between Sibanye and unions, declared the long-dragged dispute unresolved as of December 21 and issued a certificate on Monday allowing the unions to give strike notice and the company to implement a lockout.

The parties must give 48 hours’ notice to each other prior to any strike or lockout action, the CCMA said.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), UASA and Solidarity have been negotiating as a coalition since October.

Collectively, they are asking for a monthly pay increase of 1,000 rand ($65) for workers in Sibanye’s gold mines. The deal would run over each of the next three years.

Sibanye’s current wage offer would mean an increase of 520 rand ($33.96) per month in the first year of the agreement, 610 rand per month in the second and 640 rand per month in the third year for certain categories of miners.

The precious metal miner said it paid workers last month for the July to November period, based on the current offer and despite an agreement not having been reached. Sibanye added it will continue to engage with the unions to reach a “fair and reasonable” agreement.