Gold One has had to cancel another shift at its labour-relations troubled South African mine, with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) labelling management as “stubborn” and “useless” in the light of the company’s insistence on dismissing more than 400 workers for staging underground sit-in and hostage-taking protests.
Ziyaad Hassam, the head of legal at Gold One, has told “Business Report” that the gold miner has suffered R12 million to R15m in lost production.
In October and December, mineworkers at Gold One refused to return to the surface after their underground shifts ended as they protested against the miner’s refusal to acknowledge the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) as a labour union at the mine.
In the past few days, Gold One has issued more than 300 of its employees it deems were involved in the strike actions, that also included hostage situations underground, with dismissal letters.
The company has had to cancel more working shifts in the past two days as the stand-off has escalated, with Gold One saying it will not reverse the dismissal of the more than 300 mineworkers.
“The main issue was the recognition of Amcu as a union at the mine and despite agreements to operationalise this, the process has been slow. Then there is also the issue of the dismissal of mineworkers who participated in the strikes and sit-ins which is unfair as this was a genuine concern; we are demanding that these dismissals be reversed,” said a trade union member employed at the mine.
Gold One is hoping that the labour dispute about the dismissed workers will be resolved by the CCMA. NUM said last week it was also hopeful that most of the dismissed workers will be returned to work by the CCMA.
However, NUM acting regional secretary, Mlulameli Mweli, has criticised Gold One management for being stubborn in its approach to resolving the dispute. He also said management should be concerned about the production time it was losing due to the continued stand-off with employees.
“They have lost a lot of production since last year. We have been trying but the management is very stubborn,” said Mweli. “We have tried all avenues in trying to assist but they are useless.”
Last week, NUM held a mass meeting with workers at Gold One and told its membership at the mine about the hazards and dangers of the sit-ins and what it causes to the general community at large. NUM had also explained during the mass meeting that the grievances of the employees such as the acknowledgement of Amcu and the dismissal of the employees were now being addressed through proper legal channels.
In 2018, Gold One invested R100m into plant expansion at the Modder East mine in Springs, with the mine expected at the time to produce 70 tons per month. The investment also expanded the life of mine of the operation to produce a total of one million ounces.
The mine, situated east of Johannesburg, currently comprises a shallow gold mine that targets the Black and UK9A Kimberley reefs situated between 300m and 500m below the surface.