Strikers won’t leave: Kumba

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Kumbaironore Independent Newspapers Two workers at a Kumba Iron Ore mine. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Northern Cape - Talks aimed at getting striking workers to leave Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine, in the Northern Cape, were unsuccessful, the company said on Friday.

“As a result, they will now be notified to attend disciplinary hearings within 48-hours, to show cause why they should not be dismissed and criminal charges will now be laid against them,” spokesman Gert Schoeman said.

“A court order declaring the strike as unprotected and unlawful was served on the strikers last week.”

Operations at the mine were suspended earlier this month due to the wildcat strike.

About 300 miners, on the night-shift, stopped working and seized a fleet of heavy mining equipment worth R3.3 billion, said Schoeman.

The workers were demanding a monthly salary increase of R15 000 for all Kumba employees, over and above what they already earned.

“On several occasions (they have) threatened to destroy the equipment if their demands are not met,” he said.

“To date, only limited damage had been caused. The group has taken up position on top of one of the mine dumps adjacent to Sesheng township in Kathu.”

On Thursday, the mine said it would not negotiate on wages, only on safety.

The mine concluded a wage settlement with its recognised unions just two months ago, said Schoeman.

Norman Mbazima, Kumba's chief executive, said every effort had been made in the last 10 days to get the striking workers to leave the mine and the unsafe and unhygienic conditions they were in.

“We have a two-year wage agreement in place that was concluded two months ago with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity and we see no reason for further negotiations on wages outside the collective bargaining structures,” he said.

The agreement made provision for a total-cost-to-company increase of between nine and 12 percent.

Mbazima said about 95 percent of the illegal strikers were NUM members, but said they did not want to be represented by the union.

The NUM and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the Northern Cape complained on Thursday that they had been left out of talks to resolve the strike.

However, union representatives met Kumba management on Tuesday in an attempt to resolve the strike.

Schoeman said: “Regrettably, this illegal action by a few is impacting all employees as their remuneration and benefits are linked to the company's performance.

“Each passing day 120 000 tons in lost production is incurred, which will mean that permanent employees' envisioned dividends next year and the next cash payout in 2016 may be significantly less.” - Sapa


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