PRECIOUS METALS

Think of our future, SSW implores ahead of wage talks

Sibanye-Stillwater has urged employees at its South Africa gold operations to consider the company’s future as it prepares to meet with unions again today for more wage talks.

Staff reporter
 Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof gold operations in South Africa

Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof gold operations in South Africa

In an unprecedented move, four unions had united in September to call on the miner to meet their wage demands.

They said Sibanye-Stillwater should agree an increase of R1500 annually for the next three years or benchmark its offer on a deal struck with Harmony Gold Mining in September, which had included average wage increases of 7.8% in year one, 7.4% in year two and 7% in year three.

Sibanye-Stillwater said yesterday it was offering category 4-8 employees an initial increase of R480 a month, while miners, artisans and officials would receive increases of more than 4% per month over three years.

An above-inflation wage increase would jeopardise the sustainability of its gold operations "and directly impact all those stakeholders that depend on us," executive VP of SA gold operations Richard Cox said yesterday.

He said wages and the cost of electricity, the company's two biggest cost components, had increased at rates well above inflation since 2013.

"Over the past eight years, electricity tariffs have increased by 132% compared to inflation which has increased by 53%," Cox said.

"As you consider the offer before we meet again with unions at the CCMA [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] on 10 November, please consider our future."

During previous wage negotiations, Sibanye-Stillwater's gold operations were hobbled by a five-month strike which ended April 2019, when the AMCU agreed to a deal already signed by the NUM, UASA and Solidarity.

The company also has platinum group metals operations in South Africa and the US and created a battery metals portfolio this year.

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