Illegal mining
The illegal strike at JSE-listed Harmony Gold Mining Company’s (Harmony) operation is in response to the suspension of AMCU branch leadership. Image from Harmony Gold.

JSE-listed Harmony Gold Mining Company says the unprotected industrial action at Kusasalethu mine has continued despite agreements reached with AMCU.As a result, Harmony Gold approached the Labour Court of South Africa on Friday 31 March 2017 to obtain an interdict – which was granted – declaring ongoing industrial action at Kusasalethu mine, led by Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), to be unprotected, and requiring employees to return to work.

[quote] Harmony Gold and recognised unions – including AMCU – have entered into various labour agreements since 2013. Despite reaching these agreements, AMCU and its members have since the beginning of 2017 continued to disrupt operations, threatening the safety of Harmony’s employees and impacting negatively on production, Harmony said on Monday.

AMCU and its members ignored the court order granted on 31 March, with no employees reporting for work. An ultimatum was issued to Kusasalethu employees to return to work by the evening of 4 April, failing which they might be subject to disciplinary action.

These actions have had significant implications to the viability of Kusasalethu. Approximately 7 to 10 days of gold production have been lost since the 21 March 2017 to date, at a rate of 15 kg of gold production per day. Security measures at the mine have been increased to address complaints of intimidation and potential violence.

“Continuing with unprotected industrial action poses a real threat to the continued viability of the Kusasalethu mine. Given the history of this mine and the serious impact that continued production interruptions could have on the lives of our employees and their families, we call on AMCU to show responsible leadership. We urge employees at Kusasalethu to return to work,” states Peter Steenkamp, CEO of Harmony Gold.