National Union of Mineworkers president Senzeni Zokwana gives his opening address at the unions congress opening on Wednesday at Emperor’s Palace. Picture: Timothy Bernard 23.05.2012

Johannesburg - Workers who went on strike at Gold Fields' KDC East mine would return to work on Monday after a disagreement with the employer over a funeral cover policy, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Saturday.

“Members did not want the mine to implement a compulsory funeral scheme, they want options,” spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said.

On Friday night mine management agreed that they would make the policy voluntary, and workers were expected to return to work after the weekend, he said.

Uasa divisional manager for mining Franz Stehring said the funeral policy had been negotiated between the NUM and the mine.

All category three to eight workers would have R69 deducted from their salaries for the policy “immaterial of whether you wanted it or not”.

This applied to workers who belonged to other unions and those who were unaffiliated, Stehring said.

Last week Uasa put forward their objection to this in a letter to mine management, and on Friday morning received an “unofficial” reply that workers would be given the option of signing up for the funeral cover.

Gold Fields said in a statement on Friday that around 12,000 employees embarked on an illegal strike on Wednesday.

Peter Turner, head of Gold Fields' South Africa, said the management had been working to find a solution to the impasse, although it was unclear what the workers' demands were.

“The safety of our people is our first priority and we appeal to all stakeholders to continue to act with restraint and to find peaceful solutions to their differences”.

The mine could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday. - Sapa