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Cosatu condemns Kumba arrests

Oct 16 2012 20:37 Sapa

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Bloemfontein - Trade union federation Cosatu on Tuesday condemned the arrest of 40 strikers at Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] Sishen mine in the Northern Cape.

"We are aware that the workers have embarked on an unprotected strike, but it is worth noting that the strike was triggered by the hardened attitude of the mine bosses, who refused to engage with the workers," provincial secretary Anele Gxoyiya said.

He condemned the violence used against the strikers during their arrests.

Police spokesperson Colonel Hendrik Swart said police used the necessary amount of force to bring the situation under control.

Seven workers and two security guards were injured in the operation that began at 03:00 to remove strikers from the mine premises, and get them to release mine equipment, following the granting of a court order.

They were expected to appear in court on Wednesday on contempt of court charges. The strikers had occupied a part of the mine since October 3.

One miner was being treated for a back injury in hospital while the others had received treatment for minor injuries. A security guard received treatment for a knee injury, another for a cut to the neck.

Gxoyiya called on police to release the arrested workers.

On Tuesday company spokesperson Gert Schoeman confirmed they had regained possession of heavy mining equipment which the strikers had seized.

"Any damage to equipment is being assessed and the company has plans in place to restore the mine to full production as soon as possible."

Schoeman said most of the illegal strikers ignored an ultimatum to leave the mine and report for disciplinary hearings by Monday. Those who ignored the warning were dismissed.

Criminal charges of extortion, intimidation, theft, trespassing, malicious damage to property and contempt of court were laid against them.

On Monday the group was served with a Labour Court order to immediately leave the premises and release the equipment they were holding.

The company said the mine concluded a two-year wage settlement with its recognised unions, Solidarity and the National Union of Mineworkers, two months ago. The agreement made provision for a total cost-to-company increase of between 9 and 12%.

The company said 95% of the illegal strikers were NUM members, who sought to represent themselves.

Swart said police were still on the scene.
kumba iron ore  |  arrests  |  mining unrest

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