The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union's strike at Sibanye-Stillwater gold mines, the biggest remaining mines in the country, was meant to solidify its place in the industry in opposition to the National Union of Mineworkers. In fact, it has weakened the union, and handed its competitors a peculiar kind of victory.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has agreed to end its five-month strike at Sibanye-Stillwater gold mines, accepting essentially the same agreement as members of the National Union of Mineworkers accepted months ago.
Amcu members will get a token R4,000 cash payment for each of its 14,000 striking members, and a soft R5,000 loan to be repaid over 12 months.
This face-saving device will fool no one, however. The strike was meant to be Amcu's thrust into the gold industry after wrapping up the platinum sector. But instead, the duration of the strike, the split nature of the workforce's union affiliations, some fancy legal footwork by management, and the state of the industry all worked against the union.
Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa said at a press conference on Wednesday there was no political pressure for the union to sign an agreement with Sibanye.
"The decision was...