Kumba offers workers amnesty

Nov 29 2012 12:34

A crowd of mine workers from Rustenburg, Limpopo and Carletonville gather for a rally organised by the strike coordinating committee. (Leon Sadiki/City Press)

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Johannesburg - Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] has offered amnesty to about 300 employees who engaged in an unprotected strike and have not returned to work.

"These persons will receive a final written warning and be reinstated with full benefits, provided that they report for duty before 4pm on Monday, 3 December 2012," the company said in a statement on Thursday.

"Kumba... has declared a general amnesty for the approximately 300 employees who have not yet returned to work... at Sishen Mine, in the Northern Cape, and whose employment was terminated for reasons of having absconded from work," it said.

The company's disciplinary procedure provides that employees who are absent without permission for five consecutive shifts are regarded as having absconded.

The strike began on October 3 when miners on the night shift seized a fleet of heavy mining equipment worth R3.3bn to block the entrance to a mine pit.

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

Production at the mine was suspended on October 4, when the company was losing about 120,000 tons a day in production.

Many workers ignored an ultimatum to leave the mine and report for disciplinary hearings.

About 120 strikers were dismissed after failing to attend the hearings.

Kumba said about half of the employees who absconded had since returned to work and had been reinstated following hearings.

"In most cases, employees claimed to have been intimidated not to return to work," it said.

"The company is working with the SA Police Service (Saps) to counter intimidation and has deployed significant resources to assist the Saps in ensuring the safety of employees and their families."

Kumba said in terms of the amnesty, absconders would be "automatically" reinstated with a final written warning.

"This concession is made in an effort to resume normal operations, and is based on the unique strike situation."

Absconders who took up the amnesty offer would not be paid for the period that they absconded.

Kumba said it would pay employees in the bargaining unit at all company sites a special, once-off bonus of R2 000 (after tax) at the end of December.

This was to encourage good attendance and productivity over the festive season. Reinstated staff would also qualify for the bonus if they met certain attendance standards.

"This arrangement does not apply to the 125 employees dismissed for misconduct during the unprotected and unlawful action," it said.

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