Controversy over closure of Harmony mine

2013-01-09 18:30

Johannesburg - Workers at Harmony Gold Mining Company's [JSE:HAR] Kusasalethu mine were not formally told about the closure of the operation, a worker's representative said on Wednesday.

"According to law, a person must get a notice in a period of 30 days to leave the area if they must leave, and that did not happen here," Paul Motaung claimed.

"They [have] now closed everything, even the water. We can't drink water."

Police and security guards prevented more than 500 mineworkers from returning to the mine's hostels on Tuesday night, he said. Around 50 people were outside the hostels, in Carletonville, on Wednesday.

The company said it had suspended operations at Kusasalethu and was deciding whether to permanently close the mine, which could cost about 6000 workers their jobs.

It cited concerns about unprotected strikes and illegal industrial action, violence, sit-ins, and vandalism of mine property. In the past quarter there had been five sit-ins at the mine.

Business Day reported that the mine was expected to report a cash operating loss of R150m for the December quarter, and a negative cash flow of R252m.

"Until such time as the unions and Harmony have consulted and agreed on a long-term solution to operate the mine safely and profitably, we cannot give an indication as to when the mine will re-open," company spokesperson Marian van der Walt said in a statement.

Motaung said the miners were camping outside the hostels because they wanted to talk to management.

"We will camp here until that further notice.... We want to sit [around] the table with management and tell them what we want and they must tell us what they want and not want."

The workers outside the hostels wanted to work and accepted management's reasons for closing the mine.

"If they are dissatisfied with the production, let's discuss what causes that."

On Tuesday, Harmony spokesperson Henrika Basterfield said there should be no one at the mine because it was closed.

"All I can say is the mine is closed. Only about a 100 people came to the mine two days ago. Transport was arranged for them to go back home."

She said that of the 100, only seven had produced employee numbers on request and were given transport home. The others refused to show their numbers and were not helped.

Basterfield said workers were told on December 21 and 31 that the mine would be closed.

"Only that little group came after people were notified about the closure."

  • mbambo.shi - 2013-01-09 20:32

    Am not showing any compassion to the miners whatsoever. Mine Management gave these ill-disciplined employees a hand, and they, workers opted to chop the whole arm. Gravitational Force, what goes up must come down. Who is the man now???. NUM and AMCU will employ you all.

  • mpho.c.moreki - 2013-01-09 22:37

    What did I tell this miners?money doesnt grow on trees

  • arthur.mabentsela - 2013-01-10 04:58

    The law is never on the side of the good guys yaz. :-(. a couple of people show up for work the rest of them i am sur, they had to be warned before they could be fired. Hearing that take a week, paper work. Meanwhile my business has stopped beacause of these losers. If i fire someone for not coming to work, and they take me to court, i believe i, as the employer have a right to sue them for my profit.

  • arthur.mabentsela - 2013-01-10 05:10

    I say what i have said on the worker's side, but companies are also not willing to give, they rob people everyday. Two wrongs, what was it? do not make a right. Let us face it, no one really wants to solve this issue that is slowly eating away on our economy. Everyone just turns a blind eye like it is not happening. If we really wanted it to stop we would have done something last year that will ensure no illegal, violent strikes will ever take place in this country. The impact these things have is big.

  • graeme.stockwell - 2013-01-10 08:02

    Just put a sign on the gate saying - "do not report to work - we are striking for better conditions - NUM, and all the workers will go home happy.

  • zulu.jstathought - 2013-01-10 10:25

    The operation is on hold till further notice, stay at home and still be paid and yet they still return why ? Free lodging, free water and electricity free food and mageu, free medical etc ???? ja nee let us see if the goverment or unions will provide the same!

  • leonard.rom.7 - 2013-01-10 11:11

    am sure the strike helped now you all can go play marbles or dices !!

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