Feature image credit: Wikimedia

NYSE-and JSE-listed Gold Fields on 31 October received a notice by the National Union of Mineworkers of its intention to embark on a protected strike at its South Deep operation in South Africa to protest retrenchments at the mine.

The strike is set to commence on the afternoon of 2 November 2018.

About 80% of the mine’s workforce are members of the union and, should the strike proceed, it is expected to impact adversely on production during its duration.

Safety of employees is paramount and, if deemed necessary, South Deep would also consider cessation of production for a limited period of time, Gold Fields said in a statement.

As part of a wide-ranging restructuring announcement to stem South Deep’s significant cash losses and consolidate current operations, Gold Fields commenced a Section 189 process with the mine’s two registered trade unions, the NUM and UASA, on 14 August 2018.

Under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), mine management has engaged the branch leadership of the two unions since then about various matters related to the section 189 process.

Consultations have been extensive with various options explored to improve the sustainability of the mine and limit job losses. This included an offer of voluntary severance packages, which was taken up by 177 employees.

Despite these efforts South Deep still has to reduce its workforce by approximately 1 100 staff members and retrenchment letters were sent to these employees on 31 October 2018.

In addition, the mine will reduce the number of contractors by approximately 420 people.

The selection criteria used to determine which employees would be affected were part of the Section 189 consultations and included length of service, performance and competency criteria and attendance records.

Prior to the commencement of the Section 189 process South Deep employed 3 614 full-time employees and 2 214 contractors.