South Africa: Gold Mining Companies, Unions Sign Agreement

The chairperson of a leading South African mining house, Mamphela Ramphele, has called for the fundamental restructuring of the industry, saying the ... ( Resource: Radical Change Urged in South Africa's Mining Industry

Johannesburg — Three gold mining companies and three trade unions signed an agreement expected to end a prolonged strike in the gold mining sector, National Union of Mineworkers' spokesman (NUM) Lesiba Seshoka said on Thursday.

"Yes we have already signed that, basically," said Seshoka.

"We are feeling very good about it. We expect that everybody else in the gold sector will return," he said.

Trade unions the NUM, Solidarity and Uasa, and mining companies AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony Gold signed the agreement at the Chamber of Mines on Thursday morning.

The agreement relates to clause 11 of the pay deal struck last year that addresses the lowest categories of workers and rock drill operators.

It was a separate clause that had to be dealt with and it was escalated after workers started going on unprotected strikes in September at these mines.

Terms of the new agreement were not immediately available.

Leshoka said that around 80 percent of workers who had been on strike were already back at work.

Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu workers went back in time for their 6am ultimatum on Thursday to avoid being fired, the company said.

The company would provide an update later on when operations would restart, but in the meantime it was doing procedural medicals and safety checks.

"A large percentage of our workers have returned," said spokeswoman Marian van der Walt, as workers arrived en masse before the cut-off time to make sure they keep their jobs.

AngloGold Ashanti said it had not yet served dismissal letters to the 12,000 miners who did not heed an ultimatum to return by noon on Wednesday, hoping that further talks and the chamber agreement would get them back.

In the meantime, workers at the company's Kopanang, Great Noligwa and Surface Operations returned to work on Monday and those at Moab Khotsong, near Orkney, ended their unprotected work stoppage on Tuesday.

Gold Fields' spokesman Sven Lunsche said 7300 people out of 8100 were dismissed at its KDC East mine on Tuesday. Their appeals started on Thursday morning and would take place over the next week.

Operations at Gold Fields' Beatrix mine was "back in full swing" last week, Lunsche said.

At KDC West, they started hoisting off this week, and full production was expected early next week. KDC East remained closed.

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Mamphela Ramphele, the former black consciousness activist who went on to become a managing director of the World Bank and a university vice-chancellor, now chairs Goldfields, the ... Read more »