By Rebone Motlhokwane
Workers at Sibanye Stillwater are struggling to get by, after three months of no salary due to the ongoing strike.
Workers associated with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Miners (NUM) at Sibanye Gold Mine have been on strike since March 9 demanding a R1,000 increase a month instead of the R850 offered by the mine.
Thembi Nyezwe, a plant operator at Sibanye’s Cooke plant mine, said she is struggling to make ends meet, and it is impacting her children.
“It’s not nice at all, it’s been a while now, they (Sibanye) must at least make a plan to give us vouchers, so that the children can have something to eat,” she said.
She says that the company must give them what they want because they have been sitting at home for a long time now.
Another Cooke plant assistant at the mine, who asked to be anonymous, said she has been working at the mine since 2007. She told Fray News that surviving without being paid is difficult, as her mom is a pensioner.
“I’m now using my mom’s sanitary products like soap and toothpaste, and she is also struggling herself, my child is not going to school because school fees are overdue, we eat eggs almost every day, sometimes with pap or bread, because they are cheap, six eggs at your local tuck shop is R12.”
She said personally, she is okay with the R850 increase because she is a surface worker, she doesn’t go underground.
“I don’t know the procedures of the mine, I don’t even know how we got here, I was just happy with the money that I got because I was working.”
She said, she would go back to work with ‘open arms’ because she is getting sick from stress. “I even get angry with my kids for no reason because things are stagnant, my children don’t even have clothes for winter.” She said her boyfriend also works at the mine, so nobody is providing for the kids.
Boitumelo Jonkers, a section operator, has been working at the Cooke mine for 12 years, said that since the strike began, he has been “hustling” for his kids.
“We are living in hunger. All I can do is make plans for the children to eat.” He said they have not gotten an increase since 2019, hence why he will not be going to work until they get their R1,000.
NUM in their statement said that, they are “highly disgusted and disturbed by the media reports which state that Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman has been awarded an astounding R300 million salary in 2021 while the company’s employees are out in the cold, fighting for a mere R1,000 in wage increase.”
The company on May 10 issued a statement saying the offer they made “is fair and inflation related and considers the sustainability of the SA gold operations. There are no winners in a strike. It is regrettable that unions have decided to resort to strike action, which will severely impact all stakeholders.”