Mining mixed signals
Full attendance at one mine, 80% at the next and zero at the third.
As the Presidency yesterday released its "full package on the economy", which, among other things, urged striking workers to return to work, mine workers at two of Gold Fields' operations clocked in.
Gold Field s' gamble in issuing an ultimatum to workers who embarked on an illegal strike seems to have had mixed success though, with full attendance only at its Beatrix 1, 2 and 3 shafts - two days ago - and at its Beatrix 4 shaft for the first time since the wildcat strikes began.
Other gold mining companies - also hit by unprotected strikes - had said earlier this week that they would wait to see what happened at Gold Fields' operations.
About 11000 workers have been on strike at its KDC West mine since last month.
Willie Jacobsz, spokesman for Gold Fields, said that about 80% of workers reported for duty yesterday.
"The rest have been dismissed," said Jacobsz.
The National Union of Mineworkers had criticised the ultimatum, saying earlier this week that its members were still being intimidated and that the violence would prevent them from going to work.
Yesterday's attendance does not necessarily mean the strike is over, said Jacobsz.
"It depends on how many come to work for the start of shift tomorrow [today]," he said.
As many as 8500 miners are still on an unprotected strike at Gold Fields' KDC East mine.
President Jacob Zuma called on workers two days ago to return to work after a meeting with business leaders and unions.
Details of the meeting, released yesterday, showed that the current wave of labour disputes and unrest is being taken as seriously as the global financial crisis four years ago. The statement announced plans to improve living conditions in several mining towns and areas, including:
- West Rand;
- Klerksdorp; and
Now some of the mining companies' funds earmarked for corporate social investment will be added to funds from the government to roll out service delivery in the identified areas.
A task force is being established by the Presidency to bring together relevant government authorities with leaders from business, organised labour and communities to plan the new partnership.
The president and the cabinet have been criticised since the Marikana tragedy two months ago for not speaking out against the role illegally striking workers have played in the instability.