Miners abandon strike at gold mine
The week-long illegal strike by about 15000 miners at Gold Fields' KDC West operation comes to an end today.
The National Union of Mineworkers, which negotiated with the workers and the Chamber of Mines, said the strikers had agreed to return to work at the gold mine in Carletonville, on the West Rand.
They went on strike demanding that their salaries be increased to R12500 a month, the amount demanded during the recently concluded month-long strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine.
The Marikana strike, which claimed 45 lives, has been the genesis of all platinum and gold mine strikes in the past month.
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the Gold Fields strike ended after the union held an urgent executive meeting during the Cosatu congress last week.
"There were talks on Friday between us and the Chamber of Mines. There were also talks between us and our members at Gold Fields' KDC West.
"Gold Fields [accepted a resolution] because the workers entered into a memorandum of understanding last week that they are going back to work [today]," he said.
Though the strike has come to an end, pay talks will continue.
"They are not abandoning the wage demand . we have engaged the Chamber of Mines and it has agreed that we will start engaging [in pay negotiations]," Seshoka said.
Unlike at Marikana, Gold Fields would not sit at the negotiating table with the workers, he said.
Negotiations would take place only in accordance with the usual bargaining process, in which the Chamber of Mines talks to the unions.
Gold Fields, the world's fourth-biggest gold producer, had threatened to fire all workers participating in the illegal strike after it obtained a court interdict early last week.
This prompted the general secretary of trade union federation Cosatu, Zwelinzima Vavi, to leave the federation's congress to visit the mine.
Gold Fields was the first gold mine to be hit by the wildcat strikes that spilt over from the platinum sector last month when its KDC East operations were paralysed.
Gold Fields spokesman Willie Jacobz could not be reached for comment on the resolution of the strike.
But in an interview with Reuters, he said: "We have just had word from the NUM leadership that it has reached agreement with the striking workers at KDC West to return to work at the end of the long weekend, with the start of the morning shift [today]."
Also yesterday, representatives of thousands of striking workers at Anglo American Platinum, near Rustenburg, met miners to discuss their dispute with the company.
Mametlwe Sebei, executive member of the Rustenburg Workers' and Communities' Forum, formed to mediate strikes at the area's mines, said that, though the strike would continue, representatives of the forum would meet Amplats management to discuss pay increases.
The workers are demanding R17000 a month but were said to be willing to settle for R12500.
Amplats spokesman Mpumi Sithole said today's meeting was a scheduled hearing to be facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.