To date, the striking workers of Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations have lost nearly Rs 1 billion in wages since the strike began in the first week of March, while investors have likely lost nearly Rs 60 billion. The damage to investor sentiment towards labor-intensive SA companies – in a country with nearly 50% unemployment – is incalculable.
Sibanye is doing a count on herself place how much workers on strike lose their salary every day they are on strike, as well as how much each employee has lost to date (on strike day 43).
According to the company, every category 4 employee is losing R552 per day in wages and to date have lost an average of R23 736. Employees in category 8 are losing R684 per day and by April 20 they had lost R29 412 each.
“These losses will never be recovered,” says Sibanye.
“It is regrettable that the trade unions have decided to resort to a strike that will have a serious impact on all parties involved. Employees, their families and communities risk losing a lot. “
No work, no pay
Last week, Richard Cox, Sibanye’s executive vice president, Richard Cox, noted that employees had lost a total of Rand 790 million after being on strike for 36 days as the “no job, no pay” principle applies.
A quick calculation shows that the total loss of wages after 43 days of the strike exceeds R950 million.
The government has lost more than Rand 100 million in payroll taxes. “And a lot more in lost taxes and mining royalties,” Cox says.
Sibanye noted that she respects the strike rights of employees and trade unions, but urged unions more than once to reconsider their actions in the interest of striking employees who “clearly do not support” the strike.
“This is evidenced by the very low participation of employees in protests at picketing sites and the continued resignations of members from Amcu [Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union] and the NUMBER [National Union of Mineworkers]”, According to the company management.
Neither NUM nor Amcu answered questions regarding this claim.
Cox pointed out that the striking employees from category 4 to category 8 have already lost more than the cumulative value of the final increase offered by Sibanye-Stillwater in the first two years of the salary period, based on the difference of R300 per month between what is Sibanye offer and demand from the unions for an increase of R1 000 per month.
“If the strike were to continue until the end of April, the striking employees would lose all the value they could have gained from a wage increase,” says Cox.
Sibanye’s offer was accepted by two other unions, Uasa and Solidarity, in February 2022.
Sibanye argues that her offer is fair and considers the inflationary costs of living. “Our offer of an increase of R700 per month in the basic annual salary each year for a period of three years equates to an increase of 6.8% in the first year, 6.4% in the second year and 6% in the third year for category 4 employees and will add R1 0.5 billion to the SA operations salary in gold.
“The demand for R1 000 from Amcu and NUM amounts to an increase of 9.8% in the first year, 8.8% in the second year and 8.2% in the third year for category 4 employees, which it is well above inflation e [would] add R2.5 billion to our wages, “according to Cox.
“The additional 1 billion rupees in the wage base resulting from unions’ demands equates to an approximate cost increase of 40,000 rupees / kg, which would substantially erode the overall support cost margin of 46,443 rupees / kg achieved in 2021, threatening sustainability of operations and with a potential negative impact on all stakeholders, including employees.
“We will not be forced to adhere to claims that are not inflation related, inaccessible and threaten the sustainability of our operations.
“In this regard, any intensification of the strike by the unions will have no impact on our position of protecting the interests of all interested parties,” says Cox, referring to the threats from the unions to extend the strike to include the platinum mines of the United States. agency.
Personal attack on Frontman
Amcu and NUM released a combined statement explaining their position:
“This strike, which entered its second month last week, was marked by peace and discipline among the nearly 30,000 members of the AMCU and NUM. Workers are strong in their conviction and remain steadfast in their demand for a better life and livelihood as they work in the womb of the earth.
Sibanye-Stillwater has earned the title of worst employer among workers in recent years, holding the record for the highest number of miners killed in 2021 and the highest levels of inequality in the mining sector. Sibanye-Stillwater literally wreaked havoc in 2020 and 2021, thanks to the government’s belief that precious metal mining should be seen as an essential service.
“Thanks to the commodity boom that coincided with the global pandemic, Sibanye was able to pay its CEO a salary of 13 336 000 Rand and a bonus almost double that of 304 000 R1. They paid 5.6 billion. Rand in dividends to shareholders, “the unions said in their statement signed by NUM secretary general William Mabapa and Jeff Mphahlele, his counterpart at the AMCU.
“At the heart of the controversy that led to the strike is a mere R300 per worker per month. While Sibanye-Stillwater offers R700, Amcu and NUM require R1 000 per month. This is the same increase agreed upon with Sibanye-Stillwater’s main rival in gold, Harmony Gold.
“Like Amcu and NUM, we will not spare a cent to lift workers from the chains of Froneman [referring to Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman].
“We will not allow them to continue exploiting our people by using minerals that belong to the people. It is not the government and it is not the owner of the minerals.
“We find it strange and disturbing that our government is so quiet when this man is undermining the very core of the Freedom Charter, which proclaims that minerals belong to the people. We will never stop until this is addressed, “Mabapa and Mphahlele say.
They promised to pressure President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene and announced a planned march by the JSE to the Union Buildings to garner public support.
Unions are unlikely to get much support from investors, who would rather see Sibanye rake in some cash as the price of gold maintains its recent gains.
In total, investors lost billions.
Sibanye’s share price fell to the current R60, from R75 before the strike began in early March.
On average, the share prices of other SA gold mines rose about 10% over the same period, indicating that Sibanye’s share price could have risen above R80 per share, had it not been for strike. The fact that shareholders “lost” more than R20 per share equates to a total loss of over R56 billion based on the 2.8 billion shares outstanding.
In the meantime, it is evident that SA gold mines are not as popular with investors in general.
In addition to the first large SA mining groups that closed their mines due to rising costs and a hostile environment for investors, they also lost their interests in the SA. Sibanye bought these unwanted assets, emerging as the largest mining house in the SA.
A look at the gold funds available to investors also shows that most fund managers prefer mining groups with investments in non-SA mines or those with minimal exposure to SA mines.
This strike is unlikely to reverse the trend.
This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and has been republished with permission.