Labour Court rules in favour of gold miners in AMCU strike case

Johannesburg (June 23)   The Labour Court has ruled in favour of gold mining companies AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold and Sibanye Gold, making permanent an interim order preventing the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) from embarking on strike action at some of the companies’ operations.

AMCU had, in January, served strike notices detailing its intent to strike at Sibanye’s Driefontein mine, Harmony’s Kusaselethu and Masimong mines, and AngloGold Ashanti’s South African operations.

The strike was called in respect of the 2013 wage negotiations that were concluded on September 10, when a two-year wage agreement was reached with the National Union of Mineworkers, Uasa and Solidarity, which represented 72% of employees at that time.

Following the issue of the AMCU strike notices, the Chamber of Mines (CoM), acting on behalf of the companies, made an application to the Labour Court to declare any strike action by AMCU on wages and other conditions of service unprotected.

The Labour Court had initially granted the interim order preventing a strike by the union’s members on January 30.

The gold producers, represented by the CoM, on Monday welcomed the ruling by the Labour Court, which made this interdict permanent.

“The decision brings certainty about the binding nature of the 2013 wage agreement, which is in the best interest of employees, the industry and our country. Historically, the gold industry has always conducted wage negotiations at a centralised level and the process has always been inclusive and fair.

“Going forward, we will continue to bargain in good faith with the elected representatives of employees,” CoM chief negotiator Dr Elize Strydom said speaking on behalf of the affected gold producers.

Solidarity welcomed the Labour Court's ruling and appealed to AMCU to act in the best interests of its members and the mining industry at large, by preventing shafts from being sabotaged, as was the case when a similar provisional injunction was granted by the Labour Court earlier this year.

“The court ruling will prevent the damage to the mining industry from spreading further than the devastating platinum strike. The damage to the mining industry now has to be contained to give this industry time to recover so that, after two years of labour unrest, it can, once again, be put on a sustainable path,” Solidarity general-secretary Gideon du Plessis said in a statement.

Source: MiningWeekly