Workers affiliated to trade union Amcu have returned to work after a five-month strike. This comes after the trade union signed a three-year wage agreement with gold producer Sibanye Stillwater. The signing follows five months of several court cases and gruelling talks that deadlocked on numerous occasions.

A sense of hope has been restored to the community living around Sibanye’s Driefontein operation. Small business owners are hopeful that their business that were on the brink of closure will pick up. A pre-school is one of the businesses that have been affected by the strike. The number of learners at the preschool has gone down since the strike started 5 month ago. They say some of the teachers have had to stop working because there is no money to pay them.

Pre-school teacher, Nandipha Sithole, says that they only have six learners from the usual 15.

“It’s difficult because children have not been coming since the strike started. We only have six learners today, but we usually have 15 of them. We are hopeful now that the strike is over. Parents in the area really want send their children to pre-school, but they can’t due to financial constraints. Parents had to live off their child support grant.”

While others say their businesses took a knock during the strike, other businesses closed down.

“Electricity and groceries have gone up. Groceries have gone up because the wholesale prices have also gone up. This made life difficult, resulting in a lot of shops closing down because of the strike.”

Amcu agreed to a R700 increase in the first year and R825 for the second and third year despite originally asking for a R1 000 annual increase.