THE BOTTOM LINE
Sibanye: Saviour of jobs or money-grabbing predator?
Merger with Lonmin hinges on securing vulnerable employees, but union doesn’t see it that way
The relationship the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has with Lonmin is very different from the one it has with Sibanye-Stillwater, which has gold and platinum mines in SA and elsewhere.
Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman is a tough leader who has had bitter run-ins with unions in the past, both during his time as CEO of Gold One at the newly built Modder East mine, and then later at Sibanye at the Cooke mines, most notably Cooke 4 Shaft.
His counterpart, Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa, is an equally hard man, having called a five-month strike in the platinum sector in 2014, which in part is to blame for the dire financial situation in which the world’s third-largest platinum miner, Lonmin, now finds itself.
Sibanye has stepped forward with an all-share offer to take over Lonmin, underpinning the security of about 20,000 jobs by melding the mines and processing plants into its Rustenburg mines it bought from Anglo American Platinum and snapping up the whole of Aquarius Platinum.
Amcu is firmly opposed to the transaction and the job losses it sees coming from the merger, arguing that Lonmin can stand alone and does not need rescuing.
The only real lever for Amcu to pull, apart from its submission at the Competition Tribunal in arguing against the merger, is to batter Sibanye with a strike at its vulnerable three gold mines, which have had a dismal year so far.
The question is if Amcu is using a wage dispute at the gold division as a tool in its opposition to the Lonmin transaction.
Either way, Amcu is the dominant union at Lonmin and Sibanye will have to deal with the union if its bid for the platinum miner succeeds.