Sibanye-Stillwater on Friday said the Labour Court had rejected its application to stop the ongoing strike that the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) started at its gold operations in November 2018, on technical legal grounds.
The court stated res judicata, which means the matter has already been judged, Sibanye pointed out.
The company again applied to the court for the cessation of AMCU’s strike, while the outcome of a verification process is under way. Sibanye said AMCU has been causing ongoing delays to the verification process that was ordered by the Labour Court on December 21.
Sibanye’s first application in December argued that the three other unions at its operations – the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and Uasa – together form a majority; however, this needed to be verified.
AMCU argued that a proper verification will prove that the union remains the biggest at Sibanye’s gold operations, and therefore can continue with its protected strike.
“We respect the court's ruling, but are disappointed that the merits of our case were not heard, and the ruling was made on a legal technicality. We remain extremely concerned about the impact the protracted strike is having on the financial wellbeing of our employees, which is being exacerbated by ongoing delays to the verification process owing to AMCU's continual legal challenges.
“We will continue to pursue various avenues, without compromising other stakeholders, to bring an end to this strike as soon as possible," said CEO Neal Froneman.
“This was a second attempt at the same approach the mine attempted in December last year, and which was also dismissed. The court accepted Amcu’s arguments that the application was already dismissed, and that it could therefore not be entertained again.
“Amcu's strike is a protected strike and [our] members' constitutional right to strike, remains protected,” a statement by AMCU said on Friday.
Sibanye’s application in December was dismissed, owing to several defects in the miner’s founding affidavit and supporting documents.
The dispute between AMCU and Sibanye originates from a disagreement over wage increases.