Sibanye-Stillwater reports that the conciliation process between the company and labour unions; AMCU, the NUM, Solidarity and UASA (the Coalition), in respect of wage negotiations at its gold operations continued under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.
Throughout the wage negotiations process, Sibanye-Stillwater has engaged in good faith and has made a number of adjustments to its initial offer. In a further effort to reach common ground, Sibanye-Stillwater tabled an amended Conditional Settlement Offer for a period of three years. The offer takes into account the fact that the cost of living has increased and is above the average inflation rate of 3.6% over the past year but considers the sustainability of the SA gold operations.
The Conditional Settlement Offer was made on the basis that it is accepted by the Coalition which comprises all unions, and will mean that:
- Category 4 – 8 employees would receive an increase of R570 in year 1, R640 in year 2 and R670 in year 3 which includes a R40 increase in the Living Out Allowance each year.
- Miners, Artisans and Officials would receive an increase of 4.5% in year 1, 4.9% in year 2 and 4.9% in year 3.
- The company also made proposals on other non-wage and process issues.
The Conditional Settlement Offer will increase Sibanye-Stillwater’s wage bill at its gold operations by R1.4 billion by 1 July 2023 and excludes concessions made in respect of non-wage demands.
In rand terms, this offer would mean that over the next three years, the average *guaranteed income for entry-level Category 4 underground production employees who make up 29% of the total workforce would increase to R16,730 in year 1; R17,510 in year 2 and R18,326 in year 3.
* Basic Pay” + “Holiday Leave Allowance” + “Living Out Allowance” + “Provident fund”; excluding the service increment which differs from employee to employee based on the number of years’ service
This excludes employee earnings through performance bonuses that make up a significant proportion of employee renumeration.
Upon reaching an agreement, the increase will be backdated to July. Should the offer be accepted by the end of November, the backdated payment would be made before the Christmas break.
Says Richard Cox, Executive Vice President: SA Gold Operations: “We have stabilised and significantly extended the lives of the old Gold Fields mining operations since we acquired them in 2013. After five years of solid operations, our gold operations suffered severe disruptions in 2018 during the five-month strike which ended in April 2019, and most recently due to COVID. Our gold operations have only recently stabilised and returning to normalised and planned operating levels.
“At the same time, we have had to manage significant cost pressures. Over the past eight years, electricity tariffs have increased by 132% – that is, 79% above inflation – while total guaranteed income for entry-level underground employees has more than doubled. In making the Conditional Offer, we have carefully considered what our gold operations can afford. Above-inflation wage increases or any operational disruptions will jeopardise the sustainability of our gold operations and will negatively impact the many stakeholders that depend on them.
“The offer was presented and will now be considered by unions. We hope that they, and their members will give it serious and due consideration. By doing so, we can move forward and rebuild our operations. Only by working together can we ensure that the company and employees will benefit through performance bonuses.”
Sibanye-Stillwater will continue to engage with union representatives with the aim of reaching an agreement that is fair, will benefit employees and ensure the long-term sustainability of its gold operations in the interest of supporting the livelihoods of gold employees and communities, contributing to the national fiscus and supporting the many stakeholders that depend on these operations.
The parties will meet again on 24 November 2021.