AMCU is positively encouraged by the reaction of the ratings agency, Moody’s, for downgrading Sibanye-Stillwater as an investment risk. Moody’s downgraded Sibanye-Stillwater to Ba3 from Ba2 with a negative outlook. This is a clear signal to investors to invest in a humane economy, focused on workers, the communities that bring workers and their social needs, and not in an exploitative economy, which only serves the bosses and their greed, evident from hyper-increases and mammoth bonuses.
We, as AMCU, have traditionally always been critical of market reliance on ratings analyses given by ratings agencies. However, we are encouraged by the fact that the current rating reflects the failures of Sibanye-Stillwater to deal with worker issues promptly, and how this invariably affected the productivity and future stability of the mining house. South Africa has received various reports illustrating poor management of industrial relations by mining boss, Neal Froneman.
In most recent years, the World Economic Forum rated South Africa number 137 out 137 countries, thus confirming that it had the worst labour relations in the world. The variables used for this analysis shed light on the incompetence of especially mining bosses in dealing with their employees. Froneman’s hard-headed stance on addressing the genuine economic plight of black mineworkers has now been exposed.
We have continually indicated that the failure to deal with the wage dispute has nothing to do with affordability, but that it rather showcases to the world the sheer arrogance of managers who try to prove a point. This has become crystal clear from the numerous failures of Sibanye-Stillwater to enlist costly legal firms to intimidate the Union, and from their attempts to avoid the simple truth of giving workers their fair share of the profits being raked in.
This week, AMCU issued notices for secondary strike action at all the mining houses belonging to the Minerals Council. This comes after several attempts to show reason to Minerals Council CEO, Roger Baxter. We have tried to request the Council to intervene, and thus find ways to avert the secondary strike action, but to no avail. Mr Baxter, already on 22 January 2019, received a memorandum from ACMU demanding that a meeting be called to avoid secondary strikes, but he refused to facilitate such a meeting and merely directed AMCU back to Sibanye-Stillwater.
Neal Froneman has tried everything, even threatening striking AMCU members with retrenchment in terms of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA). AMCU has pointed out that this was nothing but a strategy to target AMCU and its endeavours to enhance the working conditions of black mineworkers and communities. AMCU has requested Sibanye-Stillwater to pause the retrenchment process while the strike is ongoing, pointing out that it will render meaningful consultation basically impossible. However, true to form, Sibanye-Stillwater rejected the request, and is now forcing AMCU to participate in the consultations starting this Monday.
AMCU has notified the President of South Africa, Honourable Cyril Ramaphosa that it will call on churches, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other likeminded organisations to join it in addressing this issue. The Union accuses Froneman of using apartheid-style tactics to attack the very core of social justice, namely the campaign for the economic emancipation of the working class.
Earlier this week, AMCU called upon all responsible shareholders to disinvest from Sibanye-Stillwater. The Union asked investors to send a clear signal to Froneman that he cannot crush the livelihoods of black mineworkers and the communities that feed the mines. AMCU is truly encouraged by the fact that Moody’s has reacted on investor sentiment and downgraded the embattled mining house. The quest for truth and justice shall prevail!