Gold Fields said on Tuesday that the strike action by NUM at South Deep mine in Gauteng has been characterised by intimidation and violence. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG - Gold Fields said on Tuesday that the strike action by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at South Deep mine in Gauteng has been characterised by intimidation and violence, and that jobs may be at risk if the if the strike is prolonged.

This as the offices of the UASA trade union and the Adult Education and Training Centre were severely damaged allegedly by arson attacks and striking employees allegedly attacked, assaulted and cars of three employees who attempted to go to work on Monday were damaged.

A group of protestors had also allegedly attacked a South Deep protection services light armoured vehicle, which was transporting security employees to work, by throwing rocks at the vehicle and attacked it with pangas and other home-made weapons, threatening the employees inside.

On Friday, the NUM embarked on a protected strike at South Deep mine in a bid to protest retrenchments of 1,100 more workers at the mine. Gold Fields, one of the world’s largest gold mining firms, commenced a Section 189 process with the mine's two registered trade unions in August to retrench up to 1,560 employees at its South Deep.

The miner said it has lost four days of production to date as access to the mine has allegedly been blocked by striking NUM branch members, in defiance of legislation and the Court interdict obtained on Saturday. The NUM has also been trying to prevent essential services teams from entering the mine, Gold Fields said.

The miner said approximately 150 people, or fewer than three percent of the South Deep workforce, have actively participated in visible protests and are using violence and intimidation to prevent their colleagues from going to work since the beginning of the strike.

"Gold Fields calls on the NUM to end the strike and the associated violence, and return to work so that production can be restarted, losses curbed, and the company can work to make South Deep a sustainable operation," the miner said. 

"The strike action is purportedly to try head off the necessary retrenchment of 1,500 employees and contractors. If the strike is prolonged, it will put the remaining 3,500 jobs at South Deep at risk."

Gold Fields appealed to the NUM branch leadership to respect the rights of employees who choose to work, and to publicly commit to ensuring that it will not incite or condone violence or intimidation. South Deep employed 3,614 full-time employees and 2,214 contractors prior to the section 189 process. 

- African News Agency (ANA)