Johannesburg - The Labour Court has granted Exxaro Resources an interdict directing striking workers to return to work, the company said on Tuesday.
“Exxaro has this afternoon (Tuesday) obtained the urgent interdict. It is being served on striking employees,” said spokesman Hilton Atkinson.
The company said it approached the court in an attempt to avoid the possible dismissal of striking workers by issuing an ultimatum.
Human resources head Retha Piater said workers were expected to return to work by Friday.
She said a central issue was the non-payment of performance incentives, which were not paid due to performance targets having not been met.
Workers were on a strike at the Matla, Arnot, Grootegeluk, Leeuwpan, Inyanda and Reductants operations, some of which supply coal to Eskom power stations.
She said the striking workers did not achieve performance targets which would have entitled them to an incentive payment, and the company was not prepared to reward them with additional payments.
“The union's suggestion to resolve the issue of the non-payment of performance incentives was for striking employees to receive an across-the-board once-off payment,” she said.
Instead, Exxaro put forward a proposal which included the payment of two percent of annual salary, which would equate to a minimum of approximately R2000.
The proposal would have been subject to striking workers returning to work.
“Although the proposal has been rejected, Exxaro is committed to continued engagement with its recognised trade unions in order to find a win-win solution,” she said.
NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the strike was not called by the union.
“The strike was not called by NUM. It is led by the workers. Exxaro have to deal with this issue at company level. The strike is illegal, but the demands are legitimate. The company could have acceded to the workers' demands,” he said.
The strike started on March 5 in Mpumalanga and spread to operations in Limpopo.
Exxaro mines coal and heavy minerals and was formerly part of Kumba Resources. - Sapa