S.African labour unions set March 1 date for Sibanye strike vote

(Image courtesy of Sibanye Stillwater.)

South African miner Sibanye-Stillwater’s workers will vote next week on a strike at its gold operations over an unresolved wage dispute, union officials said on Thursday.

Leaders of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and UASA, which are negotiating as a united coalition for the first time, told a joint press conference in Johannesburg they would serve Sibanye with a 48-hour strike notice if workers vote for the walkout.

“The balloting will be held on March 1 and will be overseen by officials from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA),” AMCU general secretary Jeff Mphahlele said.

In January, the CCMA, which has been mediating between the two sides, cleared the unions to give strike notice after declaring a stalemate in wage talks.

The unions said they had rejected Sibanye’s final offer, which would increase underground workers’ wages by 800 rand ($51.67) a month in each of the three years under negotiation. Other categories, including artisans and officials, would get 5% increases over the same period.

The workers want Sibanye to match a wage deal signed with Harmony Gold Ltd, which agreed to a 1,000 rand a month increase for each of the three years covered by the agreement.

Sibanye says this wage increase is unsustainable for its gold operations and would increase its wage bill by 2.5 billion rand in total by July 2023.

($1 = 15.4832 rand)

(By Nelson Banya; Editing by Promit Mukherjee and Elaine Hardcastle)

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