Sibanye-Stillwater implements a lockout at its South African gold operations in response to a strike. (Photo: Sibanye-Stillwater)

On March 10, Sibanye-Stillwater gave notice to the coalition of unions, comprising the four representative unions at its South African gold operations — Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and UASA — that it will be implementing a lockout at its South African gold operations. This is in response to failed attempts to reach a wage agreement with the coalition after they initiated a strike on March 9.

The company said it has made multiple moves within the positional bargaining negotiations, but the union coalition hasn’t moved materiality from their initial demands and therefore the parties remain in deadlock.

The lockout is in the interest of achieving a resolution to the proposed strike action and mitigating the negative impact of this on all stakeholders, including employees, the company said.

The lockout will affect all employees who form part of the bargaining unit, which include Category 4-8 employees and miners, artisans and officials belonging to the aforementioned unions. The lockout will remain in place until the final wage offer, which was tabled on February 4, is accepted by the unions that represent the majority of employees in the bargaining unit.

The principle of “no work, no pay” will apply to striking employees and locked-out members of the bargaining units of the coalition unions.

“The offer we made is fair and inflation related and considers the sustainability of the South African gold operations,” said Richard Cox, executive vice president, South Africa gold operations. “There are no winners in a strike. It is regrettable that unions have decided to resort to strike action, which will severely impact all stakeholders.”

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said the company has tried to reach an agreement with AMCU and NUM since June 2021. “The offer is final,” Froneman said. “Wage increases that are higher than inflation are not sustainable and cannot be considered.”

As a reminder, the final offer is for three years and would mean that Category 4-8 employees will receive an average increase of 6% in year 1 equivalent to an additional R800 per month; 5.7% in year 2, equivalent to a further R800 per month; and 5.4% in year 3, again equivalent to an additional R800 per month. The R800 includes a R100 increase in the living out allowance each year. Miners, artisans and officials will receive an increase of 5% in years 1, 2 and 3.