The majority of the workforce at Impala Platinum's Rustenburg mine have embarked on an unprotected work stoppage in protest against the arrest of two colleagues.

The two miners were arrested in connection with violence earlier this year at the mine and a clash at the mine last week between members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) in which a company employee was shot and wounded.

The striking workers are refusing to return to work until the arrested workers have been released and are also preventing employees who wish to work from doing so, Implats said on Wednesday.

“We believe that this unprotected work stoppage is not related to company issues and is as a result of continued union rivalry,” IMplats charged.

It added that the safety of its employees remained its first priority and that it has been liaising with the SA Police Services in this regard.

“We condemn the use of violence and intimidation in the strongest possible terms and have called on all the parties to do the same.

Management has been in contact with AMCU and the self-appointed 'worker leaders' to explain our position and secure a return to work,” the group added.

“During the past few months, we have also attempted to bring the rival unions and 'worker leaders' into an agreed interim worker representative structure, but the unions have refused to co-operate.

We have called on our employees to return to work and have appealed to all parties to allow employees to freely exercise their democratic right to join their preferred union; and for the unions to allow the law to take its course.

“We have communicated to our workers that this is an illegal work stoppage and as a result, we will enforce the 'no work no pay' principle and take strong disciplinary action against employees who have been involved in acts of intimidation and violence,” Implats said.

“We remain confident that we will secure a return to work soon and are applying for a court interdict,” the group added.

Implats said it would lose approximately 3,000 platinum ounces per day during the work stoppage, which, if protracted would impact its near term profitability as well as the number of jobs it could sustain in the future. - I-Net Bridge