Saftu condemns layoffs of thousands of miners


The trade union federation Saftu joins its subsidiary, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) in condemning a decision by Sibanye-Stillwater to lay off around 4,000 miners. Sibanye-Stillwater intends to lay off 3,107 miners and 915 contractors.

“Sibanye-Stillwater’s continued retrenchment of workers, despite favorable gold prices, puts the spotlight on its tireless pursuit of cost-cutting measures – at the expense of the workforce,” says Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of Saftu. “The prospective layoffs paint a dark picture of cruelty and heartlessness. This leaves a shadow of uncertainty hanging over the future of our members and their dependents.”

Vavi says the company has been disrupting the livelihood of thousands of miners through layoffs for more than 10 years. ‚ÄúThis attack on the livelihood of miners is masked by progressive wage agreements they sign with unions in the industry. It’s just a trick to keep operating costs stagnant: increase the salaries for workers, but reduce the number of workers in your service.”

Vavi believes the fact that Sibanye-Stillwater has laid off workers almost every year for the past decade reveals the purpose of “capitalist enterprises”. “Their purpose and social responsibility cannot be attributed to the preservation of jobs or job creation, but rather to making a profit, even if it is at the expense of employment.”

He adds that the ripple effect of these layoffs extends beyond just the employees who are affected by them. “It has an impact on families and communities that rely on the income of miners. With each layoff, the burden on the unemployed increases, exacerbating the challenges that those who want to support their families in the midst of economic uncertainty must face.”

Vavi is warning the miners concerned and their families not to accept more layoff packages, but instead to go on strike to resist any further job losses.