Harmony Gold's Phakisa mining operation. File picture: Supplied

Johannesburg – Harmony Gold says employees at its Kusasalethu mine have embarked on an illegal strike.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the listed miner says the strike is in response to the suspension of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (AMCU) branch leadership, after the AMCU leadership encouraged illegal industrial action – a go slow – at the mine.

AMCU has seemingly come from nowhere to become SA’s largest mining union, taking the top spot from the National Union of Mineworkers.

Harmony says AMCU branch leadership encouraged an illegal go slow at the mine, resulting in only 25 percent of the workforce reporting for work on Wednesday. The illegal go slow was called in response to the disciplinary procedures against 40 employees, following the illegal sit-in at Kusasalethu in January this year, the miner explains.

Kusasalethu is located about 90 kilometres from Johannesburg, near the provincial border of Gauteng and North West Province.

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“Management has sought an urgent meeting with the leadership of AMCU to address this unprocedural/illegal industrial action, which may result in further disciplinary action and undermines the continued viability of the mine.”

The miner adds it is of great concern that there have been reports of intimidation of employees, as was the case in the actions in January 2017. No employees reported for the day shift on Thursday.

“We appeal to AMCU leadership to be responsible in its actions, to publically condemn any form of intimidation and act against members engaging in intimidation, and to engage with management through the processes and procedures in place to deal with workplace disputes”, Peter Steenkamp, CEO of Harmony says.