Mine labour strife continues

After many months of strikes the unrest at the mines seems to have no end. Iafrica reports on some of the details and demands of the strikers.

Mine labour strife continues

Several wildcat strikes in the mining sector continued this week, with companies taking a firmer stance by firing workers or abandoning talks in an attempt to end labour disputes.

The SA Chamber of Mines said it was giving up on negotiations after unions said their members had “mixed reactions” to employers’ proposals and could not confirm they would return to work.

“In response, the chamber has indicated that it is not in a position to make any further proposals and that it, and the individual companies, will now explore other avenues to try to bring normality to the gold mining industry,” the chamber said in a statement.

Last week, the chamber agreed to give the unions an extension to communicate the proposals to workers. They had until Monday to return with a response.

On behalf of AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, and Harmony, the chamber had proposed doing away with the lowest wage category, creating a new category for some employees and adjusting the pay of others.

From the article it seems that the mining companies are starting to take action.

Gold One sacked 1400 workers last Tuesday. They had been on a week-long wildcat strike at its Ezulwini mine, on the West Rand.

Gold One spokesman Grant Stuart said the employees, of a total workforce of about 1900, had undergone an appeal process on Monday. The outcome had not yet been announced.

Gold Fields suspended operations after its workers went on an illegal strike, the company said on Monday.

Spokesman Willie Jacobsz said about 8500 of 12,400 workers at KDC East (formerly Kloof Gold Mine) downed tools on Sunday, at the start of the night-shift.

“The total number of employees now engaged in the unlawful strike at KDC East and KDC West is approximately 19,500 out of a total workforce of approximately 26,700.”

He said production was suspended at the entire KDC.

Workers at KDC West (formerly Driefontein) went on a wildcat strike in September, demanding a R12,500 monthly salary.

Bokoni executive Joel Kesler said striking workers at the company’s platinum mine, outside Burgersfort, in Limpopo, were intimidating fellow employees after being issued with an ultimatum to return to work.

Kesler estimated that 600 employees reported for work on Monday.

Police spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said employees were given until Monday to return to work.

“About 20 percent of them returned to work, but the other 80 percent refused to do so. They were the guys that confronted returning workers this morning [Monday].”

More than a week ago, more that 2000 striking Bokoni workers were fired for participating in the illegal strike. Formal dismissal notices were issued after a disciplinary hearing.

Most of the mine’s 3500 permanent staff and 900 contractors downed tools nearly two weeks ago.

A strike by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) workers was also continuing, despite threats of disciplinary action.

It seems the unrest has spread into the Northern Cape as well with Kumba Iron Ore becoming a target.

The company said on Friday that talks to end the strike had been unsuccessful so far, and that workers had been told to attend a disciplinary hearing, or be fired, spokesman Gert Schoeman said.

However, workers ignored the hearings on Monday.

“These [hearings] will now proceed in their absence and they may be dismissed,” said Schoeman.

Operations at the mine were suspended earlier this month because of the wildcat strike.

About 300 miners on the night-shift stopped working and seized a fleet of heavy mining equipment worth R3.3 billion, said Schoeman.

The workers were demanding a monthly salary increase of R15,000 for all Kumba employees, over and above what they already earned.

The mine has said it concluded a wage agreement two months ago and that while it would discuss safety conditions, it would not re-open wage negotiations.

via iafrica.com | business | business news | Mine labour strife continues.

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