S.Africa’s AMCU issues further strike threat to Sibanye

Sibanye Chief Executive Neal Froneman (Image Sibanye Gold via YouTube )

* Thousands march to protest wages at gold operations

* Union hands over lists of demands

* Threatens “full on strike” at firm’s platinum site

* Sibanye says management considering demands

JOHANNESBURG – A South African union representing just under half of all workers at Sibanye-Stillwater’s platinum mine will extend a one-day strike if the company does not return to the negotiating table, its president said on Tuesday.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (AMCU) Joseph Mathunjwa made the remarks outside South Africa’s Mineral Council in Johannesburg, where he had marched with thousands of people, some wearing shirts saying “blood gold” and holding placards which read “down with slave wages”.

The march was organised to protest about wages for workers at Sibanye’s mines and hand over a list of demands.

AMCU said that if Sibanye did not respond within 48 hours it would call a “full on strike” at its platinum operations.

“If they don’t come to the table and settle with us we will be calling for a total shutdown in Rustenburg, we are going to shut down those mines,” Mathunjwa told demonstrators, referring to the location of Sibanye’s platinum operations in South Africa’s North West Province.

AMCU said around 12,500 platinum workers downed tools on Monday, in solidarity with their colleagues at Sibanye’s gold operations. The union’s members at Sibanye’s gold operations have been on strike over wages since November.

AMCU called the strike after wage talks with Sibanye broke down. Four workers have since been killed in strike-related violence, and the dispute has hit Sibanye’s production. It said it expects to miss its 2018 bullion forecast.

Sibanye said it had received AMCU’s demands and that they were being considered by management.

Neil Froneman, Sibanye’s CEO, said it had engaged extensively with AMCU, setting out the company’s position and had at all times responded promptly to their written requests.

“Our position remains consistent and we urge AMCU to use the recognised platforms for further engagement on ways to end this damaging strike,” he said in a statement.

Last year, Sibanye reached a three-year wage agreement with three other unions representing workers at its gold sites.

It argues this covers a majority of employees, and it should therefore be able to extend it to AMCU members – a point AMCU disputes.

Sibanye shares were up 1.89 percent to 10.23 rand at 1244 GMT.

(By Tanisha Heiberg and Emma Rumney; Editing by James Macharia and Louise iHeavens)

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