The unprotected strike at Sibanye’s Cooke operations ensued after a prohibition on food being taken underground, which had been agreed with the majority union, was implemented.
The ban on food being taken underground by employees was aimed at preventing food from being provided to illegal miners by employees, following signs of collusion.
[quote]Year to date, 77 employees have been arrested for assisting illegal miners. Since the strike began, thus indirectly preventing food being taken underground, 472 illegal miners have surfaced from underground and have been arrested.
“The arrest of 472 illegal miners at the Cooke operations, which are not dormant, but active, operating mines, indicates the extent of the illegal mining activities and the risks that this growing criminal activity poses to our operations, employees and communities,” states Sibanye’s gold division CEO, Wayne Robinson.
Following a Court interdict obtained by the company on 8 June 2017, disciplinary measures were taken against striking employees.
The employees were provided the opportunity to appeal; a process presided over by an independent chairperson.
The outcome of the appeal resulted in the dismissal of 99 employees’ being uphold, 407 employees are placed on final warnings and forfeiting their salaries and a further 869 forfeiting annual leave, in order to compensate for non-productive shifts.
Approximately 300 kg of planned gold production, worth approximately R160 million, was lost at the Cooke operations during the strike.
“These operations have failed to meet production targets for some time, with illegal mining and employee collusion likely to have played a meaningful role in this under-performance,” explains Robinson.
The Cooke operations have been incurring financial losses and have been under strategic review for some time. The additional losses incurred, due to this strike, further impact on the economic viability of these operations,” concludes Robinson.
Feature image credit: Sibanye