Minworkers pictured outside Sibanye-Stillwater mine.
JOHANNESBURG – The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) West Cluster will march to Sibanye-Stillwater in Westonaria at noon on Monday to demand that the company reverse plans to cut jobs.
Sibanye sent retrenchment termination letters to more than 2,000 workers at its Cooke 1 to 3 operations near Randfontein, south-west of Johannesburg, last week.
Sibanye said that approximately 2,025 employees would be retrenched and an additional 1,350 have already elected to take voluntary separation packages, while 3,601 contractors would be displaced at its Cooke operations.
NUM spokesperson, Livhuwani Mammburu, said they were marching to demand that the miner reverse the retrenchments and go back to the negotiating table to save jobs.
Mammburu said Sibanye had already instructed workers not to go underground as it was preparing to put the operations on care and maintenance.
“Soon after issuing workers with retrenchment notices, Sibanye immediately hired 800 security officers to guard the operations so that workers cannot go underground. Why retrench workers and put mine on care and maintenance instead of selling the mine?” Mmamburu said.
“Workers have made a lot of proposals to Sibanye, including going on three-months unpaid leave, to avert the retrenchments but the company refused. Sibanye is arrogant. The retrenchments were effective the day they were served, November 1.”
The diversified miner concluded the section 189 process with relevant stakeholders relating to the Cooke and Beatrix West operations in the Free State following the proposed restructuring of its gold operations and associated services as the mines continued to make losses.
The underground mining operations at the Cooke 1, 2 and 3 shafts were placed on care and maintenance with effect from end October. The miner said both the underground operation and Beatrix 2 Plant would be put on care and maintenance with immediate effect in the event that it becomes loss-making.
Sibanye said that the decision to restructure was not taken lightly, but job losses had been ameliorated through the consultation process and at least 3,282 employees would be retained.
Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted was not immediately available on Monday as his phone rang unanswered.
Mammburu said that the union’s alliance partners and the mining community have vowed to embark on more marches should Sibanye continue to disregard their demands against retrenching the workers.
He said the mineworkers would start their march at 12 pm from Lebanon Red Club in Westonaria to the Sibanye corporate offices.