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JOHANNESBURG - The South African Federation of Trade Union (Saftu) on Wednesday pledged solidarity with 91 mine workers who were dismissed at Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine in the Northern Cape five years ago following a strike and sit-in at the mine.

The mine workers, who were fired in 2012, are still fighting for their reinstatement. 

On Thursday, the Labour Court will give its judgement on the workers' application for leave to appeal to the Labour Appeals Court to overturn a previous ruling on 30 June, which dismissed the reinstatement case.

Kumba Iron Ore, part of the giant Anglo-American PLC, dismissed the 208 workers for "participating in an unprotected strike". The workers were striking for a living wage and improved working conditions.

At least 90 of these workers were reinstated after one of the unions reached a deal with the miner. Five years on, 91 of the remaining 118 workers continue to fight ti get their jobs back.

The newly-formed union federation said it was pledging its support in the fight to win this appeal, but warned the courts cannot be relied on to rule against powerful employers. 

"Like all workers' battles this fight will ultimately be won through mass action on the streets," Saftu's acting spokesperson, Patrick Craven, said in a statement.

"Working-class solidarity is not simply a fine idea, but an absolutely essential weapon for workers, especially at a time like now when a job-loss bloodbath is hitting workers in the mines, farms, factories, supermarkets and even the banks. As a result more and more families are being driven into a life of poverty."

Craven said Saftu will give all possible assistance to the dismissed workers in relation to their appeal.