Approximately 1 200 of its day shift employees elected to remain underground at the Sibanye Driefontein mine’s Masakhane shaft.
The illegal strike action relates to the recent death of employee Mosioua Kanono, a rock drill operator at the Driefontein Masakhane shaft, the cause of which remains subject to a state pathologist investigation.
Initial investigation by the company pathologist suggests that the employee died of natural causes. The cause of death has significant legal implications and as per policy previously agreed with the unions, also different financial and other benefits for the deceased employee and his family.
As such, the official report from the State pathologist is a necessity. Driefontein management engaged with the AMCU branch leadership on Monday, 1 September 2015 regarding the issue of benefits in situations such as this where the cause of death was uncertain and initial agreement had been reached that certain benefits would be reviewed where there was no finality on the cause of death.
In addition to normal benefits as per company policy, in order to assist Kanono’s family whilst the State pathologist report remained outstanding, management agreed to consider a number of concessions, including inter alia:
- Providing a bus to transport employees to the funeral; and
- Providing preferential employment for family members of deceased employees
Management had also agreed to allow the AMCU branch to hold a mass meeting on Wednesday, 2 September to inform employees of these decisions, but the employees unfortunately took matters into their own hands before this could be communicated and embarked on illegal strike action.
Due to the risk this kind of illegal activity poses to health and safety the company followed due procedure and gave employees an ultimatum to return to surface and engage in a proper manner, failing which, an interdict will be served and disciplinary action taken.
All employees have subsequently agreed to return to surface and management will engage with representatives in due course. “It is disappointing that our employees elected to embark on unprocedural and illegal protest, despite management’s willingness to engage on the issue and after indications that we would consider revising long standing policies which had previously been agreed with the unions,” said Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye Gold.
“This kind of illegal activity by a minority of members, poses a health and safety risk to employees who are being forced to remain underground and we urge union leadership to engage with their members in order to prevent these sort of disruptions which potentially compromise the future of the business and jobs in future,” Froneman concluded.