Johannesburg, South Africa — 25 October 2012 – South Africa’s top gold mining companies have started tackling the ongoing strike problem with a firm hand, and in most instances striking miners are streaming back to work.
Reuters reports that Harmony Gold Mining, South Africa’s third-largest gold producer, gave 5,400 striking workers at its Kusasalethu mine an ultimatum to report for duty by this morning or face the sack. The company said today that most striking workers were back at work “’ a positive sign that the strike at its Kusasalethu mine was over.
Gold Fields sacked 8,500 wildcat strikers on Tuesday after they had ignored an ultimatum to return to work or face dismissal, increasing pressure to end weeks of labour unrest.
The world’s fourth-largest bullion producer issued dismissal notices to the strikers at its KDC East mine near Johannesburg, a company spokesman said. The workers had 24 hours to appeal.
“We have now reached a stage where we can’t hold off anymore. Our hands were forced and we have now done it,” spokesman Sven Lunsche said.
Last week Gold Fields resolved a strike at nearby KDC West by using a similar hardball tactic.
AngloGold Ashanti “’ the world’s No.3 gold producer “’ has reported the return of at least half of the striking workforce at its South African mines.
An ultimatum issued on Monday expired yesterday, and the company is seeing positive signs that workers will return to work, spokesman Stewart Bailey said.
The bulk of workers at two mines, Kopanang and Great Noligwa, had returned to work and those mines were back in operation, he revealed, adding the company had half of its striking workforce of 24,000 back at work yesterday.
Outside the mining industry, workers at Toyota Motor Corporation’s parts supplier were also expected to return to work, after the company and the union reached a agreement. The strike at Toyota Boshoku, which makes seats and door panels, forced Asia’s top automaker to shut its South African car factory last week.
Workers at a Goodyear Tire factory in the Eastern Cape this week became the latest to stop work, going on a legal strike to protest against a change in company policy toward allowances for breaks, a union said.
More than 100,000 workers have downed tools for better pay since August in a wave of strikes that has sparked two credit downgrades and raised questions about the relatively slow response of President Jacob Zuma’s government.
Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s largest platinum producer, was the first to take a stand against wildcat strikes, sacking 12,000 workers at its Rustenburg operations earlier this month. Its Rustenburg mines have been shut since 12 September.
Last week the company said it would delay the dismissal process at its Union and Amandelbult operations, where it employs 20,500 people. It also said it was open to discussing the reinstatement of the sacked workers with unions.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.