The gold producers who are members of the Chamber of Mines confirm that they have been served with a notice by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) of its intention to strike at Sibanye Gold’s Driefontein mine, Harmony Gold’s Kusaselethu and Masimong mines and at AngloGold Ashanti’s South African operations.
The strike has been called in respect of the 2013 wage negotiations. Wage negotiations were concluded on 10 September 2013 when a two-year wage agreement was reached with three of the four unions (NUM, UASA and Solidarity), representing 72% of employees at the time. While AMCU, representing 17% of employees at that time, participated in the central level negotiations, it refused to accept the agreement.
The September 2013 agreement was made applicable to all employees who form part of the bargaining unit, irrespective of trade union affiliation. These wages were backdated to 1 July 2013.
AMCU members have therefore benefited from the outcome of the wage negotiations since then.
In terms of the ‘peace clause’ contained in the agreement, there can be no strike action about terms and conditions of employment during the existence of the agreement; the issue of conditions of employment has been settled for the duration of the agreement; and no demands may be made during the course of the agreement.
Accordingly, any strike action about terms and conditions of employment during the existence of the agreement will be in contravention of the ‘peace clause’ and thus unprotected.
Any strike action by AMCU against the gold producers covered in the wage agreement will be opposed and a court interdict will be sought to prevent AMCU from embarking upon strike action. The Chamber of Mines will request that the court rule that the union should be held responsible for any and all damages suffered as a result of strike action.
Speaking on behalf of the affected gold producers, Chamber of Mines chief negotiator Dr Elize Strydom called for circumspection by AMCU in its approach, “The industry remains in a fragile position, with many mines and shafts making a loss. A strike will further undermine the industry and threaten even more job losses and even some mine closures. We appeal to AMCU to act in the best interests of its members, the industry and the country. We further appeal to AMCU and employees – stay at work and save our industry.”