FEELING THE STRAIN
Sibanye wage talks deadlock again, NUM/Amcu seek arbitrator to end strike
Wage talks between Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold division and the NUM and Amcu unions have again deadlocked, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter. The unions now want an independent arbitrator to step into the fray.
So close, and yet so far.
The gap between union demands and an offer tabled by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) is not wide.
The CCMA proposed a pay hike for the lowest of R700 a month in the first year plus a one-off R3,000 payment — a liquidity shot to help households that may be on the brink with creditors circling. Year two would see the R1,000 a month increase, while year three would be R900. Artisans and officials would get a 5% pay raise each year, which is below the consumer inflation rate of 5.9%. That is expected to accelerate higher in the coming months.
The unions in turn rejected that and their counter-proposal only differed slightly from the CCMA’s, with a demand for an R800 a month pay rise in year one instead of R700 and also with the R3,000 once off payment. The only other difference is that in year three higher-skilled categories would get a 5.5% increase instead of 5%.
So things are very close but the deadlock remains.
“We have reached a deadlock. The CCMA recommended we can go for a private arbitrator to rule on the matter and it will be binding on all parties,” a source told Business Maverick.
The current talks under the CCMA which began last Thursday have been conducted under Section 150 of the Labour Relations Act. Section 150A allows the director of the CCMA to appoint an independent panel to make a decision that is binding on both parties — but both have to agree in advance.
The two sides are not far apart and the strike has been dragging on for almost three months, so both the company and the unions must want to see light at the end of the tunnel. Many of the striking workers must be feeling the strain as fuel and food prices bite. With Amcu and NUM working together, the strike has at least been notable for its lack of violence. That doesn’t mean that tempers are not fraying. DM/BM