Today's Labour News

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amcu thumb medium80 81David McKay writes that the strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mines, due to be extended to its platinum group metal mines in Rustenburg in a secondary strike, feels like an important moment for both the company, and the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu).  

At the centre of the standoff is Lonmin, a company Sibanye intends taking over.  Lonmin is the heartland of Amcu president, Joseph Mathunjwa’s support base, a following he achieved in the events leading up to and following the Marikana tragedy in August 2012.  In the years following Marikana, Mathunjwa enjoyed a good, even indulgent relationship with Lonmin’s CEO, Ben Magara.  But in Sibanye, Mathunjwa has its CEO, Neal Froneman, as his opposite number.  Froneman is not known for indulging unions and he isn’t likely to be cornered in quite the same way as Magara at Lonmin.  That’s been evident in the two-month long Amcu strike at Sibanye’s gold mines where the union’s following is variable.  This appears to be the backdrop to the secondary strike called at the platinum mines.  Mathunjwa is testing how far he can push Sibanye.  But Froneman is keeping a poker face, saying the company can absorb the impact of the strike, at least for a while.

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