Amcu to launch strike at Sibanye Gold on Wednesday

Amcu members at the gold mining company will down tools demanding an entry level salary of R12,500.

FILE: Amcu members march during one year anniversary at Lonmin's Marikana mine where 34 striking platinum workers were shot dead by police on 16 August 2012. Picture: Gia Nocolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said on Monday it plans to launch an indefinite strike on Wednesday at Sibanye Gold to demand higher wages.

Amcu members had voted in October to strike in the gold sector, including at Sibanye, but had agreed not to down tools immediately.

Amcu spokesperson Manzini Zungu said on Monday the union had given a 48-hour strike notice to Sibanye.

"We will go on strike for as long as our members are saying 'stay on a strike'," he said.

"Sibanye is on a shopping spree, acquiring other assets but their workers are paid very low wages."

Sibanye, which in 2015 bought Anglo American Platinum's labour-intensive Rustenburg mine and Aquarius Platinum, signed an agreement with three smaller unions and extended the wage deal to Amcu members.

Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted said the company had received the strike notice.

"They have a right to strike but we have the right to limit the potential damage to our business," he said. "We have robust strike plans and will be implementing," he said, without elaborating how Sibanye would cope with the work stoppage.

Zungu said the union aimed to get the salaries paid to its members in the gold sector to match the higher wages in coal and platinum.

Amcu led a bruising five-month wage strike in the platinum sector demanding more than a doubling of wages in 2014 to R12,500 - the same demand sought in gold last year. In both instances the demands were unsuccessful.

Wage talks in the platinum industry are set to begin in the next few weeks as a two-year wage deal expires end-June.

"We will be receiving demands from branches. It is our wish to sign an agreement by 1 July because we do not want a strike," Zungu said.

Meanwhile, Sibanye Gold says it can't reopen negotiations with Amcu.

The union won't accept the outcome of last year's wage negotiations, which saw Sibanye and three other unions agree to a 12.5 percent salary increase implemented over three years.

Amcu believes workers at the gold mining company are under-paid and says they should have salaries that are on par with mineworkers in the coal and platinum sectors.

Wellsted says the union's decision to go on strike is disappointing.

"We can't reopen wage negotiations as the decision has already been made and we've implemented the increases that were agreed last year; we can't negotiate separate agreements with one union."