Striking miners march en route to listen to Julius Malema at the Gold Fields mine in Grootfontein. During a speech punctuated by cheers and the blowing of whistles and vuvuzelas, Malema called for a national strike in all of South Africa's mines.
Striking miners march en route to listen to Julius Malema at the Gold Fields mine in Grootfontein. During a speech punctuated by cheers and the blowing of whistles and vuvuzelas, Malema called for a national strike in all of South Africa's mines.

Gold Fields strike continues

By Maryke Vermaak And Jenni Evans Time of article published Sep 14, 2012

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Johannesburg - Talks to resolve a week-long strike at Gold Fields KDC west were taking place at the company's Libanon mine in Westonaria on Friday, a spokesman said.

“We have been meeting on a daily basis with (the National Union of Mineworkers),” said Sven Lunsche.

“Obviously, we have been trying to assist the NUM to talk to its members,” said Lunsche.

The NUM representatives at the talks at the mine's headquarters at its Libanon shaft, western Gauteng, were from regional and branch offices.

It would be a breach of collective bargaining agreements to not talk through them first, he said.

“It doesn't mean we don't want to engage with others,” he said of the thousands of workers who have gathered at KDC west since Monday.

There were no reports of strikes at other shafts.

There is no production at the mines over the weekend and workers typically go home then return again for the Sunday night shift.

Earlier, Gold Fields tossed a pile of pamphlets out of a moving bakkie at its KDC west mine, telling striking workers how much money they had lost for being on strike so far this week.

The thousands of workers who had been singing and dancing at shaft eight and discussing how they had been convincing miners to stay away from work rushed towards the pamphlets as they fluttered to the ground.

Bearing a picture of the company's senior vice president, Koos Barnard in suit and tie, the text broke down how much had been lost for each pay grade.

Workers read the pamphlet, formed a group on a field, discussed the pamphlet and then tore it up.

Titled “Gold Fields' loss of earnings update” it said that on the fifth day of the “no work no pay” strike, workers who had not reported for duty would not be paid.

For underground workers (by pay grade) this was: A3: R887.05; B1: R912.10; B2: R1057,85; B3: R1249.85: B4:1467.85.

The pamphlet said: “Nobody benefits through this unlawful action”.

The loss to surface workers was: A3: R783.65; B1: R806.30; B2: R945.20; B3: R1125.70; B4: R1334.85.

The A3 covers the grade of a general labourer.

The amount excluded living out and other allowances in respect of earnings lost for the period that they participated in the strike, the loss of bonus payments due to days not worked and food and accommodation per day.

“You are in breach of an interdict of the Labour Court”, it said, with many of the words in bold and underlined.

“I recommend all striking employees to return to work with immediate effect”.

Some workers proposed that they walk the 3km to Barnard's office at another section of the mine. Barnard had received their memorandum on Monday.

Initially there appeared to be an agreement to the suggestion, but this plan was eventually abandoned.

The workers decided instead to seek a protection order, so that their representatives would not get arrested when they engage with management.

Earlier, people interviewed said mine security had visited their hostels on Thursday evening and told them to go back to work, but were promptly chased away.

The striking workers had spent the evening and morning trying to convince people not to go to work on Friday.

“We spoke to them at home. We told them they must not clock 1/8in 3/8. We spoke nicely to them. We don't want to fight. We don't want to see people die,” said Lunga Nocwanya, 27, who said he had worked at Gold Fields for four years.

However, he said that if staff members were still working by next week then “we will kill them.”

Nocwanya said he earns R4600 before tax.

“We need this money. I have two kids. I can't support these kids with R4000.”

Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) would have an urgent national executive meeting to deal with the issues strikers and protesters have raised at Gold Fields, and at Lonmin and Amplats in Rustenburg.

About 85 percent of the gold mine's 15 000 workers downed tools on Sunday, over a range of issues which include a salary increase to R12 500, equal pay for equal jobs across all mines, and the removal of the NUM's branch leadership.

The company has responded to demands and is in turn waiting for the workers' reply.

Forty five people have died in events associated with the strike at Lonmin. - Sapa

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