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Gold Fields issues final ultimatum

Oct 19 2012 18:13

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Johannesburg - Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] issued a final ultimatum to striking workers at its KDC East mine on Friday.

"Gold Fields... regrets to advise that approximately 8500 of the 12 500 employees at KDC East, [who were] on an unlawful strike since 14 October, 2012, have not yet returned to work," spokesperson Willie Jacobsz said in a statement.

"Gold Fields, with the support of the board of directors, this afternoon issued a final ultimatum to present themselves for work starting with the night shift on Monday, 22 October 2012, and the morning and afternoon shifts on Tuesday... or face immediate dismissal."

Strikers were told about a court order that declared their strike illegal, but refused to return to work.

"Striking employees and their representatives have also been given sufficient opportunities to make representations as to why they should not be dismissed, all of which were not taken up."

After an initial ultimatum, Gold Fields reported a full worker turnout at most of its mines on Friday.

"Workers at Beatrix one and two shafts in the Free State and KDC West in Carletonville are all back at work, except at KDC East, where they remain on strike," said Jacobsz.

KDC East miners were not covered by the initial ultimatum, as their strike had started on October 14, whereas workers at the other shafts went on strike on August 29.

The KDC East workers were unhappy with the National Union of Mineworkers' (NUM) branch leadership at the mine, said another Gold Fields spokesperson, Sven Lunsche.

After intervention by the union's national leaders, the branch leadership stood down and a new election was scheduled for October.

However, since then intermittent violence between various factions had led to the arrest of a number of striking mineworkers and members of the NUM's interim branch committee, he said.

On the morning of October 12, 14 workers and members of the interim committee were arrested for attempted murder, intimidation and violence after the former members of the mine's NUM branch leadership were attacked.

The same evening, a group of miners went to the Westonaria police station where the 14 were held. They demanded their colleagues be released and vandalised the building.

Police arrested 74 miners for public violence.

The strike at KDC East then resumed on Sunday, with the workers' only real demand being the release of those arrested, Lunsche said.

"This is clearly not in our control. We have won an interdict to declare the strike unlawful and unprotected and we are looking at all our options on how to bring it to an end."

Media were not allowed at the mine on Friday for security reasons.

Gold Fields had lost about R1.2bn in revenue and 65 000 ounces in gold production during the strike. 
gold fields  |  wage disputes  |  ultimatum  |  mining unrest



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