Johannesburg - Mining company Xstrata said the situation at their Kroondal mine was calm on Wednesday after protests earlier this week by sacked employees.

“The situation is calm,” said Xstrata Alloys spokesman Chris Tsatsawane.

Thirty-seven people were arrested on Tuesday when a group of around 200 people barricaded the road leading to the North West mine and threw stones at passing vehicles.

They went on strike over the way an assault complaint against a colleague was handled, and were subsequently fired at the beginning of November, National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) sector co-ordinator Steve Nhlapo said.

He said a white colleague had assaulted a black employee who would not sign a salary offer, because he said the union was still busy negotiating.

Nhlapo said the white employee was given a final warning after his hearing, which the union felt was an inconsistent application of company policy for this offence.

“Blacks are fired, whites are not,” he said.

Workers want a fresh hearing for the white employee by an independent arbiter, Nhlapo said.

The company said that the case could not be reopened because due process had been followed and concluded.

Tsatsawane said on Tuesday the protest was by former employees who had been fired.

There were no further incidents that required the police or security officials on Tuesday night.

“In the interest of protecting lives and property, we will continue to work with the authorities to resolve the situation peacefully. We condemn any form of violence and intimidation,” said Tsatsawane.

Police said those arrested would appear in the Rustenburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday. - Sapa