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South Africa: Sibanye-Stillwater bows to workers’ pressure, increases wage offer for mineworkers

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Following industrial action that has lasted a month and a half by gold miners in South Africa, a mining company, Sibanye-Stillwater on Friday gave South African gold mine workers higher wage offers.

A BBC report says some 80,000 gold miners in South Africa went on a strike to call for higher pay, but their union has significantly scaled down its demands. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is calling for a 10% wage rise, down from earlier demands for increases of up to 60% for some workers. Workers last week rejected an offer of a 6% rise – the same as the current annual rate of inflation.

The latest arrangement by Sibanye-Stillwater offers entry-level employees an annual increase of 850 Rand in a month each year between 2022 and 2024, including a 50 rand increase in living out allowance.

Sibanye previously offered entry-level workers an annual increase of 800 Rand a month, including a 100 rand a month increase in living out allowance. The company’s offer to miners, artisans and officials remains a 5% pay increase each year.

Executive vice president of Sibanye’s South Africa gold operations, Richard Cox “urged employees to carefully consider the offer we have made and to ensure that their voices are heard,”

Trade unions are recognized within the 1996 Constitution of South Africa, which provides for the right to join trade unions, and for unions to collectively bargain and strike. This has translated into the Labour Relations Act which established the working framework for both unions and employers.

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‘Nigeria has witnessed significant progress under Tinubu’— SGF Akume

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Nigeria’s Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), George Akume, has given thumbs up to the administration of President Bola Tinubu, saying the country has witnessed tremendous progress in just one year of the government.

Akume, who was speaking at the ‘Ministerial Sectoral Updates’ in Abuja on Wednesday, said despite the hardships being experienced as a result of the policies of the government, the administration had also rolled out social intervention programmes to mitigate the suffering of the people.

“I make bold to say that, Nigeria, under its present stewardship, has witnessed significant policy strides in various sectors including but not limited to,” Akume said as the Tinubu administration heads to its first year in office.

Listing some of the achievements of the government, the SGF noted in particular the following:

“i. The Presidential accent to the 2023 Electricity Bill, a move that dismantled monopolistic control over electricity generation, transmission and distribution at the national level and granted authority to State Governments, Corporations and individuals to generate, distribute and transmit electricity, thus decentralizing the power sector;

ii. Accent to the passage into law of the Nigeria Data Protection Bill 2023 that established a legal framework for safeguarding personal information and promoting data protection practices in Nigeria; and

iii. The challenging but very necessary Removal of Fuel Subsidy, a longstanding policy notorious for fostering corruption, and inefficiency and imposing significant fiscal strain on the government annually, and primarily benefitting the affluent and smugglers, rather than effectively aiding the general populace.

​It is apt to say that under President Tinubu’s stewardship within his first year in office, we have witnessed significant strides in various sectors of our economy.

Through prudent fiscal policies and strategic investments, the Nigerian economy has shown resilience and potential for growth.

The administration’s focus on infrastructure development, job creation and economic diversification has laid the foundation for sustainable progress and prosperity for all Nigerians.

Furthermore, the government’s commitment to good governance and the rule of law has strengthened our democratic institutions and enhanced transparency and accountability in governance,” Akume said.

However, his optimism is not shared by a majority of Nigerians, especially the masses who have been at the receiving end of the stick.

The ordinary Nigerians do not seem to enjoy the present administration of President Tinubu due to the hardship and hunger they have been made to go through due to the policies of the government.

Cost of living has skyrocketed and the prices of basic commodities have gone out of the reach of the masses while government officials are living large at their expense.

A labour leader who lamented the current situation in the country on Wednesday summed it up with these words:

“Government cannot be telling us that there is no money; this is an insult. We did not remove subsidies or float the national currency.

“The government created this problem. Since the removal of the petrol subsidy and floating of the naira, has the government shown proof that the country has no money, no?

“We are aware that the government gave members of the National Assembly no less than N160 million each to buy cars, the same government has released N90 billion to subsidise hajj operations.

‘’The government has renovated the Senate chambers, and the vice president’s office, and it is buying luxury buses for Customs in millions of naira.

‘’They are also buying all manner of SUVs for government officers. Since the removal of subsidies, the government has been making life better for political elites who have been feeding fat on workers.

“Crude oil sales have increased considerably and it has been getting more money in dollars, while workers have been suffering and going deeper into poverty.

“The state governors have been receiving three times more than they were receiving before the removal of subsidy. We cannot accept this. We did not cause the socio-economic challenges the country is facing.

“The government inflicted these problems on the country with their ill-thought out and unprogressive policies of subsidy removal and devaluation of the national currency. If the country has no money, let it reflect in the lives of government officials, their aides and cronies.”

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Tinubu’s policies in the best interest of Nigerians— VP Shettima

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Nigeria’s Vice President, Kashim Shettima, on Tuesday once again justified the policies and programmes of the President Bola Tinubu administration, insisting that they were in the best interest of Nigerians.

Shettima, who was speaking during the APC Professionals Forum’s Policy Roundtable Conference on the “Asiwaju Score Card Series” at the Shehu Yar’adua Centre, Abuja, reiterated that the thrust of Tinubu’s “Renewed Hope Agenda” was repositioning Nigeria, given the circumstances and peculiarities of the nation.

“Every country’s journey is distinct. Every country is shaped by its economic history and challenges. We respect the efforts of other nations, but we are focused on what works best for Nigeria,” Shettima, who was represented at the event by Special Adviser to the President on General Duties (Office of the Vice President), Dr. Aliyu Modibbo, noted.

He opined that the 8-point agenda of the Tinubu administration “provides a clear framework for its policies and programmes,” outlining areas of concentration to include “driving job creation, economic growth, food security, poverty eradication, access to capital, the rule of law, anti-corruption efforts, and inclusive development.”

“These initiatives are not just plans on paper; they are actions being implemented to create tangible improvements in the lives of everyday Nigerians,” he explained.

Shettima cited examples of the administration’s investments in agriculture and other sectors, which, according to him, are intended to reduce the nation’s reliance on imports and boost local production, adding that the ongoing Renewed Hope Housing Scheme promises to address the housing deficit and stimulate economic growth.

“Similarly, we are also focused on reducing unemployment and underemployment through various initiatives, including the Outsource to Nigeria Initiative, Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises, and the Expanded National MSME Clinics.

“These programmes are designed to create more job opportunities and foster economic inclusivity,” he emphasized.

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