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Friday, 05 July 2024 10:55

Unions slam mining companies' 'co-ordinated' job cuts and calls for review of labour laws.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Sibanye-Stillwater Mine has announced on Tuesday it had cut over 2,000 jobs from its gold operations, as it moves ahead with planned restructuring to reduce costs and boost profitability.

The mine announced that consultations with the relevant stakeholders in the Section 189 process had concluded as the restructuring and functions previously announced on 11 April 2024.

As per the Section 189 (S189) process, more than 3 000 employees and 900 contractors were set to be affected, it said in a statement.

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) expressed its dissatisfaction with the retrenchments.

The union said the process placed profitability over its social responsibility of job preservation and employment creation.

"This capitalistic logic has led Sibanye-Stillwater and other firms to disrupt the livelihood of thousands of mineworkers through retrenchments callously," stated Saftu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

"With each retrenchment, the burden on the unemployed grows heavier, exacerbating the challenges faced by those striving to support their families amid economic uncertainty," he added.

The total number of employees and contractors in the company's South Africa region has been reduced from around 81,500 at the end of 2022 to 70,000 since 1 January 2023.

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said: "We have restructured the SA region to align with the reduced operating footprint following the necessary operational restructuring for greater regional sustainability and profitability and we are well positioned for ongoing shared value delivery.

"It is extremely encouraging that the restructuring efforts undertaken in the SA region have not only successfully and proactively addressed lossmaking operations thereby securing the benefits and value they continue to bring to multiple stakeholders, but through cooperative consultation with stakeholders, limited forced retrenchments to just 8% of total employees impacted since January 2023."

"We acknowledge and thank all stakeholders for their constructive engagement during this difficult period," concluded Froneman.

Meanwhile, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) said the country's labour laws must be reviewed in a bid to save jobs. It said section 189 process always favours the employer, leaving workers compromised.

The workers are now pinning their hopes on the country’s political developments to come up with stronger measures to protect existing jobs and create more employment in the sector.