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COMPULSORY COVID JABS

Exclusive: Sibanye to bring in effective mandatory vaccine policy from February 2022

A mine worker receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at Anglo American Platinum's Tumela mine in Amandelbult, South Africa, on Thursday, 12 August 2021. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sibanye-Stillwater has become the latest South African company and the first mining house with its main listing on the JSE to bring in a mandatory vaccine policy for its workforce, with effect from February. The news comes as the company has suffered a major safety setback with three employees killed on Friday at its Beatrix mine.

Diversified miner Sibanye will introduce a vaccine mandate from February, Business Maverick can exclusively report. 

From the start of February, any person entering Sibanye workplaces in South Africa will require proof of vaccination or a valid test showing they are negative for Covid-19. Given the costs of such tests, it is effectively a mandatory policy.

Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted told Business Maverick this was the case, confirming information provided by a source familiar with the matter. 

The news comes on a day of tragedy at the company. Three of its employees were killed at its Beatrix Mine in the Free State on Friday, an incident that the company also confirmed and will issue a statement about later. 

The vaccine policy comes at a time when Sibanye is still locked in wage talks with unions at its gold division and the parties are expected to meet again on 13 December. The unions are in a position to request a strike certificate — it had appeared that they would last month — and the two sides have made little headway.

So there is no love lost between Sibanye and the four unions involved — the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), Solidarity and Uasa. The vaccine mandate and the latest tragedy are bound to spark further friction. 

Earlier this week, NUM made its view on vaccine mandates clear:

“The NUM continues to support the vaccination drive by our government; however, we are against mandatory vaccination on workers. We will defend this right with all the means we have to ensure our members are not discriminated against because of their constitutional beliefs to exercise this right,” it said in a statement that also expressed concern about the mounting death toll in South Africa’s mines this year.

On the vaccine mandate, Sibanye appears to be the first confirmed case among South African mining houses with a primary listing on the JSE.

It was reported this week in the UK’s Daily Telegraph that Anglo American was planning the same and in response to a query from Business Maverick, the company said: 

“Anglo American is intending to introduce a policy that requires Covid-19 vaccination for access to all its sites and offices, with the continued objective of protecting our employees, their families, and communities as much as we can … We expect there may be differences in exactly how and when the policy will be implemented across the Group due to local contexts and legal requirements,” it said. 

Elsewhere on the South African corporate front, Discovery Health will be implementing a vaccine mandate as well. DM/BM/MC

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