Gold Fields another Marikana?

2012-10-02 18:42

Carltonville - Two thousand striking miners evicted from company housing at a Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] mine in South Africa occupied a nearby hill on Tuesday in scenes disturbingly reminiscent of the build-up to a mass police shooting at a platinum mine in August.

The protesting workers at Gold Fields' KDC West mine, 50km west of Johannesburg, said they would not leave the rocky outcrop near the mine entrance until they received a hefty pay increase to R12 500 a month.

As with a wildcat strike in August at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine, many of the Gold Fields employees were armed with sticks, but had few belongings beyond the ragged clothes they were wearing.

At Marikana, 3 000 strikers occupied a hillock near the mine for five days before police moved in to remove them by force on August 16.

The police operation, in which 34 miners were shot and killed, was the bloodiest security incident since the end of apartheid in 1994 and spurred a wave of industrial unrest that has spread across the platinum and gold mining sectors.

The ruling African National Congress and President Jacob Zuma have attracted criticism for their handling of the mines unrest, with political opponents and analysts saying they have not moved quickly enough to address and solve workers' grievances.

Fifteen thousand KDC West gold miners downed tools on September 10, hitting production at the world's fourth biggest bullion producer. Gold Fields bosses have refused to negotiate with them.

On Tuesday, company security officers evicted thousands of strikers from company hostels, yet the miners - faced with sleeping rough on the hill - refused to back down.

"We want 12 500 (rand). We are not going back. We'll stay here until the management comes here and talks to us," 25-year-old miner Thabane Mohale told Reuters as he started to climb the hill, armed with a stick.

There was no sign of the police near the hill.

Gold Fields spokesperson Sven Lunsche said about 5 500 workers were housed at KDC West but many had not left yet and the company was seeking a court order to complete the evictions.

"Law and order was breaking down in the hostels," Lunsche said.

"They were used as a base to plan and coordinate unlawful and life threatening activities in support of the illegal strike."

As many as 75 000 miners, or 15% of the mining industry's total workforce in South Africa, are now on illegal strikes, threatening already shaky growth in Africa's biggest economy.

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  • squeegee.pilot - 2012-10-02 19:00

    So, if the results are the same, who do we blame?

      christelle.james.7 - 2012-10-02 19:15

      This is such a catch 22 situation. It appears as if the miners are underpaid (I am not at liberty to speculate on that) but this type of behaviour is WRONG. And the fact of the matter is, we gave in to the previous "terrorists" and we have set a precedent. Again we teach people, then it goes out of hand, and we want to "unteach" them.

      simon.stamp.98 - 2012-10-03 09:26

      If they don't want to go back to work, and the mine does not want them back,,,,,,the problem is solved isn't it??

  • ken.rowe.509 - 2012-10-02 19:00


      heathway.master - 2012-10-02 20:38

      This should have been EVERY mines response from the start. Ashanti Gold’s managing director has refused out right to meet with the unions or any of its workers. The MD stated that in the previous session of strikes, the unions and strikers had signed a legal agreement with regard to wage issues over the next two years. His comments were that this agreement is in legal force, the present strike is totally illegal, and they have no legal reason to deal with any union or striking worker. As the strike is illegal, fire the whole dam lot, evict them from mine accommodation and treat them in the strict rules laid down by our Constitution. By either trying to negotiate with the mob, or refusing to negotiate with the mob, the same level of violence and destruction will result anyway.

  • doug.sparks.397 - 2012-10-02 19:07

    I understand the difference between capital and labour..but guess what ...labour will loose this time round

      John - 2012-10-02 20:01

      Capital will always lose to labour. Capital is NOTHING without labour. Observe the effect of the strikes!

      John - 2012-10-02 20:08

      If these greedy CORPORATE THUGS kept up communication with their workers they could make incentives to allow their staff to appreciate them. The pay packet is the lowest form of incentive. The FEELING of duty is the greatest driver. work out how to implement this.

      Johann Enslin - 2012-10-02 20:11

      Labour wants what it hasn't produced.

      heinrich.etsebeth - 2012-10-03 07:19

      @John: Wahahaha you are classic. Gold Fields will probably not even feel this. Before they do they will have had their day in the courts and fired all of these criminals. Yes criminals because that is what they are if they embark on an illegal strike.

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-03 16:37

      Average 10 dependents per miner x 75000 = 750 000 people that are suffering. Labour & the dependants to lose a lot.

  • Cameron - 2012-10-02 19:12

    Eish.... Authorities, just place a fence around them, this way no one gets hurt and u guys wont be blamed for the stupidity of the miners!

  • rowan.maulson - 2012-10-02 19:15

    Simple solution to this, though it will hurt Gold Fields in the short to medium term. Fire the lot of them and close the shaft.

  • tobydt - 2012-10-02 19:18

    Do the right thing this time. Fire them.

      John - 2012-10-02 19:54

      Sitting in your safe position you have the audacity to pass judgement! Disgusting! They have every RIGHT to demand a better life.

      Johann Enslin - 2012-10-02 20:09

      ...and the mine has the right not to pay it.

      jayjay.mlungu - 2012-10-02 20:27

      John, there has to be a trade off. Productivity for an increase and somehow stick to wage agreements!

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-03 16:41

      Most bosses will be fed up with workers after 7 days absence, 3 weeks illegal strike is 2 weeks too long.

  • punungwe - 2012-10-02 19:22

    The government does not employ and pay miners, so how can it be expected to 'move quickly' to address workers grievances. The only thing they can do is order the companies to increase wages. The companies would obviously raise hell over such a move. The only thing the government is required to do, is ensure that the law is observed during the strikes. Otherwise in the short term there is little government can do except wait the crisis out. The strikes are the fault of mine owners and management.

      rowan.maulson - 2012-10-02 19:36

      I hate to tell you this, the government can't order the company to increase wages, they do not have the legal mandate to do so. These strikes are not the fault of the mine owners and management, they're the fault of the Unions plain and simple.

      fourhundredkg.bobbejaan - 2012-10-02 19:45

      What authority does government have to "order the companies to increase wages"? Unfortunately you suffer from the black man's belief that companies somehow have an unlimited supply of cash. It just doesn't work that way, I''m afraid.

      John - 2012-10-02 19:46

      CORPORATIONS control the government! Why should they listen to and obey their SERVANT?

      malcolm.baillie.50 - 2012-10-02 19:46

      I think you will find the prices that have risen are: Food, electricity and fuel. These are the reasons why people are striking. If you gonna blame the mines shareholders and management for your governments incompetence in creating the correct atmosphere for investment, I suggest you take a drive to Nkandla and take some photos of your presidents use of your taxes. It is the governments duty to uphold the rule of law, and the law has ways and means of addressing workers grievances. Unprotected strikes isn't one of them.

      davy.botha - 2012-10-02 20:26

      Lets take a look back, when the rock drillers started strike the said they earned R4500 and everybody pitied them, the reality is that alot of South Africans earn these wages and is dictated by global economics (Example.Clothing Industry). Now lets get back to Marikana. After a 22% increase the rock drillers earn R11000, if calculated back they earned R9500 before the increase and this means even after deductions excluding performance bonuses how could they have taken home R4500. This is ridiculous that you can make statements in the media and not substantiate it. Open your eyes to all these liars!

      shaun.mcclelland.31 - 2012-10-02 21:31

      These striking miners will cry when the mines opt to mechanise and become less labour intensive

      deon.louw.7505 - 2012-10-03 16:45

      Maybe we can sell a few mines to the Chinese and they can send some managers and workers from China?

  • John - 2012-10-02 19:32

    Has this CORPORATION no regard for the PIE Act? Prevention of illegal Eviction. Another bunch of CORPORATE THUGS that need to be brought to the attention of the PEOPLE! These corporate thugs control the police, the mainstream media so WE will be fed the usual bull manure as a propaganda exercise and most wiil lap up this manure because it must be the truth because they saw it in the mainstream media! PEOPLE, look deeper to perceive how you are being lied to by your servant government who are our MASTER!!!!!

      rowan.maulson - 2012-10-02 19:37

      Given how by the book they've been so far, I can almost be 100% sure that they've followed the law and that these are completely legitimate and legal strikes.

      elgh.elgh - 2012-10-02 20:20

      John, you seriously need to sit down, and then realise that you feeding yourself a lot of bull.

  • nhlamulo.lesley - 2012-10-02 19:40

    The sooner these miners get paid whst they derseve the better

      kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-10-02 20:14

      I actually agree with you but not that it should be money. What they do deserve is to be fired and after some years of hardship will realize what a blessing it is to have a job. Any job that keeps one alive!

      rowan.maulson - 2012-10-02 21:04

      Currently, I agree with Kobus, the only thing these miners deserve is a dismissal letter.

      marinus.cloete - 2012-10-03 01:58

      Well surely they don't deserve R12 500 ??!

      heinrich.etsebeth - 2012-10-03 07:25

      Sure, good idea, but in which universe does an uneducated laborer deserve to be paid more than a graduate?

  • craig.king.7505 - 2012-10-02 19:41

    Gee, so it is a coordinated protest. Zuma and Malema are now having a pissing contest which South Africa will pay for. The outcome will be decided by who can be the most hardarsed about the cost because one of them will back down. That will be the most patriotic man and there are no guarantees that the world will ensure a sensible outcome for South Africa. Once again we plunge into another ocean of turmoil fuelled by racism, tribalism and personal power. Zuma can stop all of this now by simply resigning and having someone trustworthy in charge of the country and the investigation into all of the rot that corruption has brought to South Africa. The choice of person must be for the ANC to decide because they are in power. Malema has zero input in the matter and anyone he and his faction prefer is automatically disqualified. We are where Zimbabwe was in 1999, Ivory Coast a few months ago.

  • maverick.generators - 2012-10-02 19:48

    Not learning from past experiences is a sure sign of stupidity. And this country has lots of it....

  • isaac.kgalake - 2012-10-02 19:49

    R12500 every miners'dream

      JamesMWood - 2012-10-03 13:03

      Education should be their dream, and with it they can achieve more and provide more for their families. Before blaming apartheid, first ask yourself, how many of these miners were educated by the current regime?

  • King Prince Moretsele - 2012-10-02 20:07

    the gap between the rich and poor in SA its a ticking time bomb,and no one is ready to address this issue,we get c.e.o's being paid bonuses even when companies didnt do well over million of rands and the poor hard working employees are being offered peanuts. its only a matter of time when SA will come to a stand still regarding this issue.

  • juan.prinsloo.750 - 2012-10-02 20:10

    Well don't forget to bring the sangoma with the bullet proof muti

  • osmaseko - 2012-10-02 20:12

    Modern slavery will not be tolerated as much as violence should not be condoned.....what I would like see happening is the mine being close then we will see who will cry more? Either capitalists wont afford to lose more money and give in to the miners demands or the mine closes and people live in poverty that they are used to.

      rowan.maulson - 2012-10-02 21:06

      Nah, you're forgetting reality, since this is an unprotected strike. The miners get fired, the shaft goes into maintenance mode for a period, the company rehires those who WANT to work, for their original wage... and life goes on (except for those who still don't have a job)

  • ld.vanvuuren - 2012-10-02 20:12

    Just cordon them off, leave them on the hill, ignore the buggers and see how long they last. There are rules to every game and they try to make new ones. It simply don't work that way. Let hunger do the job.

  • Errol Mathebula Wakhindlimuka - 2012-10-02 20:20

    wow all the mines @ mzatsi are top 5 in the world but they cant pay 12.500 to the works amazing.

  • John - 2012-10-02 20:22

    Why do the mainstream media insist on usingthe term ILLEGAL STRIKES? Creating the public perception that striking is a criminal action? STRIKING is a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT. No one needs permission from anyone to withhold their labour! There is NO such thing as an ILLEGAL STRIKE!!!!

      jayjay.mlungu - 2012-10-02 20:38

      John you are very subjective. Yes the right to strike is in the constitution, but they have to follow procedures. They didnt follow them, so it is illegal. But the labour laws are one sided. Companies must obey, but workers dont. Wage agreements are struck and then thrown out a year later? Crazy.

      aaron.larkens - 2012-10-02 20:58

      I agree that the term 'illegal strike' is misplaced. BUT where you are wrong is that although every person has a constitutional right to strike, that right is not absolute and is limited. The correct term would be an 'unprotected' strike. Embarking on such a strike does have consequences for the employee, they cannot simply withhold their contractual obligations and consequently open themselves up to disciplinary proceedings. I must state I do empathise with the plight of the workers, there are however mechanisms designed to deal with such situations.

  • nhlamulo.lesley - 2012-10-02 20:29

    I guess the miners are tired of being used by umlungu asijiki we want the 12,500 and equalisation

      Johann Enslin - 2012-10-02 20:40

      Equalization? How? With money? I think the "equalization" you are referring to happens between the ears and that takes work.

  • ktmoifo - 2012-10-02 20:55

    Game two is back at Gold Field!

  • Mike Peach - 2012-10-02 21:12

    Let the games begin.

  • Mike Peach - 2012-10-02 21:20

    Johann true he probably has an equaliser in his car which he is still trying to figure out although its 30 year old technology.Why cant these okes simply get on the the worlds programme,even animals are adapting but not these okes.

  • facts.peter - 2012-10-02 21:44

    Wha-ha-ha-ha-ha is all I can say. Burn SA, burn !!!! I removed all my assets a long time ago. Zimbabwe is going to be like a fairy tale in comparison to SA. What a pity, and being a traveler, what a beautiful country to flush down the drain by the so-called democracy swallowed by corruption & greed. Prepare to go but first enjoy the circus. While everyone is busy why don't we rather spend R400 million on Zuma’s house and surely he deserves his own multi million Rand aircraft.

  • nthete.moalosi - 2012-10-03 06:59

    Why are this capitalists left to do as they please,now they evict people from the hostels,and in our own country and our minerals,clearly goverment needs to take full control of the situation and negotiate on the workers behalf and give this companies an ultimatum.

  • heidi.pierce.12 - 2012-10-03 08:13

    Please do not use these derogatory terms. No matter how misguided you think these people are, you are no better if you do not respect their humanness. Most of us do not really have a clue as to who is in the wrong and just interpret the situation to suit our own paradigm. Unfortunately the only way for workers to really get a better deal, is through education and obtaining of scarce skills. In the end knowledge is the only real, authentic power. And the only way for workers to "win".

  • imbwa.nyoro1 - 2012-10-04 14:33

    all this is the begining of the downfall of SA, That's how it started in Zim and that's where SA is going too.Be prepaired 2 boarder-jump from SA soon

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