The end in the strife in the mining industry in South Africa is not over, as employers are now putting their foot down after strikes hit the industry.
Employers have resorted to firing thousands of workers and issuing ultimatums to many others. The order is for them to work immediately or face dismissal.
Gold Fields, the world’s fourth-largest producer of the metal, has become the latest mine to fire striking workers.
The company dismissed 8,500 employees at its Kloof Driefontein Complex (KDC) East.
It said workers had “ignored” an ultimatum to return to work.
“We dismissed 8,500 workers as of this afternoon after they did not adhere to the final warning we issued on Friday,” company spokesman Sven Lunsche was quoted as saying.
Workers at the mine have been on strike since October 14.
According to Lunsche the workers had “24-hours to appeal” their dismissals and the company hoped the “workers would do so”.
He said there had been no violence since the dismissals, and police and mine security were on alert.
The company had told workers they faced dismissal unless they returned to work.
The company already had a court interdict declaring the strike unlawful and ordering strikers to return to work, according to a statement it posted on its website.
It said it had embarked on a comprehensive campaign to encourage striking employees to observe the court order, and had issued the ultimatum. These requests were ignored.
“Striking employees and their representatives have also been given sufficient opportunities to make representations as to why they should not be dismissed, all of which were not taken up,” the company said.
According to reports, several companies have been dismissing striking workers.
Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) fired 12,000 at its Rustenburg operations, Kumba Iron Ore fired 180, Gold One International dismissed 1,435, and Atlatsa Resources, which owns Bokoni Platinum mine, shed 2,161.
Gold Fields also dismissed 1,500 employees at the KDC West operation last week.
Meanwhile, workers at AngloGold Ashanti’s Carletonville operations have until noon on Wednesday to return to work or be fired, the company said.
AngloGold Ashanti miners have been on strike since September for a monthly salary of R16, 000. The company said it was losing around 32,000 ounces of production a week during the strike.
“Management is continuing to engage with the employees to seek to convince them to return to work. We wouldn’t like to carry out with dismissals,” said spokesman Alan Fine.
“If the workers had not returned by noon on Wednesday, they would be issued with dismissal letters. They would have the right to appeal.”