Today's Labour News

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Sibanye StillwaterBL Premium writes that Sibanye-Stillwater is the last of four gold producers represented by the Minerals Council SA still in talks with unions around wages, with no end in sight.  

Settlements have been reached between the unions and AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold and Village Main Reef.  Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman set the stage for what could be a bruising encounter with the unions negotiating wage increases at its gold mines by saying that one of the reasons for the dismal state of SA’s gold mining industry was the repeated capitulation of companies in granting above-inflation wage increases during wage talks.  With the cost of labour making up half or more than half of the costs of producing gold, one of the few levers left to pull in correcting the cost-to-revenue balance is the reduction in labour.  In fact, employment in SA’s gold sector has fallen to 112,000 from 400,000 people in 1994, while production dropped to 138 tonnes from 583 tonnes.  While the workforce cannot be expected to subsidise their employers with lower wages or below-inflation increases, Froneman’s stance is that there has to be a fair settlement that will sustain mining for years to come.  Given the pressure on the unions from their members for more money, the dismal employment levels in SA and demands for profits from shareholders, there seems to be little room left to manoeuvre.

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