Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 02 March 2010 – Africa’s biggest gold mines face an indefinite strike from this coming weekend unless owner Gold Fields Limited “’ Africa’s second-biggest producer of the metal “’ resolves a dispute over a fitness test with South Africa’s largest labour union.
Revealing this in a statement here, Gold Fields said the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had threatened to stop work at all of the company’s operations unless the test for new recruits was abolished.
“The labour union is unhappy with the so-called Functional Work Capacity Testing System, after some new recruits were recently found unfit to work underground,” Gold Fields said. NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka couldn’t immediately comment when Bloomberg News contacted him on his mobile phone.
“The test is a legal requirement,” Gold Fields spokesman Julian Gwillim said by mobile phone. “We can’t just abolish it. The NUM, which represents between 70 and 80% of the company’s almost 47000 employees, is in talks with management,” he added.
If the discussions fail to resolve the matter, Gold Fields said it would have no choice but to apply for an urgent interdict to have the proposed strike action declared illegal.
South African production makes up 60% of the company’s output, according to Gwillim.