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Sibanye to head to court as AMCU strike claims first life

Nov 22 2018 17:40
Tehillah Niselow, Fin24

Sibanye-Stillwater will file an urgent court interdict to try to prevent further violence and intimidation, as the wage strike by the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (AMCU) claimed its first life.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) alleged that the worker, who was killed on Thursday morning, belonged to the union, and had been attacked by AMCU members at Sibanye’s Beatrix operations in Welkom, Free State.

At a press conference on Thursday, AMCU denied any hand in the violence, and said it was still awaiting reports to confirm which union the deceased miner belonged to.

AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa told the media that Sibanye-Stillwater was behind the violence, and blamed their private security guards for escalating tensions.

"It is a tactic to declare the strike unprotected…all the shafts are closed, [they] see the strike will cripple them," said Mathunjwa.

The union is demanding R1 000 annual increases for the next three years, while the three other unions at the company, the NUM, Solidarity and UASA, accepted R700 in the first two years, and R825 in the third for most workers.

Charged environment

Sibanye-Stillwater confirmed in a statement that one of their employees had been killed as the strike kicked off on Wednesday night, and that several others had been seriously injured.

Spokesperson for the company James Wellstead said they would file an urgent court application on Thursday to prevent further violence and damage to property.

He added that it had been "quite a charged environment" on Wednesday night, and all shafts were closed.

While some workers reported for duty on Thursday, operations remained closed.

Mathunjwa said he wrote to Police Minister Bheki Cele to appeal for restraint from police, as well as Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe to request his intervention. He also contacted NUM President Joseph Montisetsi and Sibanye’s CEO Neal Froneman to request help with a de-escalation of tensions, he said.

"The only thing we want is to squeeze Sibanye, irrespective of the color of the T-shirt, [for] a decent wage. NUM can't be the enemy," said Mathunjwa, who is a former NUM member and leader.

Deadly intra-union rivalry remains a concern, six years after the police shootings in Marikana in the North West. Ten people died in the week preceding the mass shooting, while Lonmin refused to close the shafts during the violent wage strike.

The NUM tweeted that their members had been attacked, allegedly by AMCU members, while in a bus to work at Beatrix, and NUM leaders would visit all Sibanye operations to assess the situation.

Sibanye’s share price on the JSE slid 6.2% to R8.83 at 14:10 on Thursday.

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sibanye-stillwater  |  amcu  |  labour  |  strike
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