Johannesburg - AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG] said on Friday
workers at its West Wits operations had returned to work, bringing the curtain
down on the worst industrial unrest in the gold sector since apartheid.
After threats of mass firings and a wage deal agreed between
the industry and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the only mine not up and
running is one of Gold Fields’ three operations, where sacked workers are
appealing their dismissal.
“It appears that the strike is over. Workers have proceeded
underground at two of the three mines affected and it appears that the same is
happening at the third,” AngloGold spokesperson Alan Fine said of the West Wits
Workers at AngloGold’s Vaal River complex, which was also
hit by an illegal strike, returned to work earlier this week.
After three weeks of talks, NUM and the gold industry, which
employs around 157 000 people, announced an agreement on Thursday on wage hikes
of between 1.5 and 10.8% for different categories of workers.
Resolution of the gold sector strike is likely to bring
relief to the ANC and President Jacob Zuma, who remains
favourite to win re-election as head of the ruling party at an internal
election in December.
However, large parts of the platinum sector remain idle,
with no end in sight to a six-week strike at Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS]
(Amplats), the world’s top producer of the metal.
Some 20 500 workers at Amplats’ Union and Amandelbult
operations are still holding out for higher wages, and the company has also
sacked 12 000 wildcat strikers at its Rustenburg mines northwest of
In all, 100 000 downed tools since August in often violent
strikes that triggered ratings downgrades and a slight reduction in this year’s
economic growth forecast from Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.