Underground sit-in at Sibanye shaft as miners protest against share option scheme

05 June 2024 - 06:52
By TimesLIVE
An unprotected sit-in protest is being staged at Sibanye's Kroondal operation. File image
Image: Thapelo Morebudi An unprotected sit-in protest is being staged at Sibanye's Kroondal operation. File image

More than 200 miners are staging an underground sit-in protest at Sibanye-Stillwater's operations in Kroondal.

The company said morning shift employees, including contractors at the Kwezi shaft, initiated the illegal sit-in on Monday, with 211 employees remaining underground. At the K6 shaft the nightshift was also disrupted, with about 250 people gathering in a central waiting place at the surface.

The dispute is over annual payments made under the employee share option schemes (ESOPs) paid to beneficiaries of the Rustenburg and Marikana mines on Friday.

The striking Kroondal employees are aggrieved to not have received ESOP payments. However, the company said they do not yet qualify for this.

"A provision of the 2023 Kroondal wage agreement signed between the company and union representatives from the National Union of Mineworkers and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union was for management and the unions to engage on the feasibility of introducing the Rustenburg employee share ownership scheme for Kroondal employees once the acquisition of the Kroondal Pool and Share Agreement (PSA) by Sibanye Rustenburg Platinum Mines is finalised."

Agreement was reached that Kroondal employees would be included as beneficiaries of the Rustenburg ESOP after the PSA transaction was concluded, which is expected before the end of this year.

"The striking employees and their union representatives were well informed about the future date of inclusion into the Rustenburg ESOP."

Richard Stewart, chief regional officer Southern Africa region, said: "We fully respect employees’ rights to raise their grievances as set out in agreed policies and procedures. The current illegal and unprotected strike, however, is disappointing and we appeal to all stakeholders, including employees, to follow the established grievance procedures and to refrain from illegal acts. At this time the safety of our employees and contractors remains our top priority and we will undertake all necessary action to ensure their health and safety while underground."