Thousands of Harmony Gold strikers return at deadline

2012-10-25 09:13
A large number of 5 400 illegally striking mine workers at a Harmony Gold mine shaft clocked in ahead of a 6am deadline this morning, a company spokesperson said.

The firm on Tuesday told strikers at its Kusasalethu shaft near Carletonville south west of Johannesburg to return to work today or be fired.

“We’re really very pleased and encouraged by the fact that a large number of the workers have returned to Kusasalethu. Obviously we don’t know exactly how many at this stage,” said Harmony Gold spokesperson Marian van der Walt.

“Because we asked all of the guys to be back at the shaft and not shift-by-shift there’s really thousands of people at the moment.”

“It’s certainly a very large percentage of people back at the shaft,” she added.

The only striking shaft at the mine’s ten underground operations had downed tools on October 2 demanding higher wages amid a wave of wildcat stoppages across the mining sector.

By Tuesday the firm said it had lost 13 000 ounces of gold production because of the industrial action.

Harmony Gold was the latest of the country’s major gold producers to threaten wildcat strikers with dismissals after neighbouring Gold Fields let go 10 000 and world number three producer AngloGold Ashanti yesterday said 12 000 could lose their jobs when they missed a return deadline.

Many fired Gold Fields workers have appealed their dismissal.

Wage strikes flared up two months ago in the platinum sector, where over 50 people have died in clashes, including 34 killed by police in a few minutes at the Lonmin platinum mine northwest of Johannesburg.

Main gold operators and unions were expected today to ink a new wage deal that could raise pay for ­lowest-earning mineworkers.