Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe said on Monday that underground sit-ins were not an effective solution.
Mantashe made these comments at a press briefing at the 2024 Mining Indaba, which is being held in Cape Town.
He said that he did not think it was a great idea for miners to engage in underground sit-ins and said that sit-ins are an action led by unions.
It should be noted that in October and December, mineworkers at Gold One refused to return to the surface after their underground shifts ended as they protested the miner’s refusal to acknowledge the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) as a labour union at the mine.
Mantashe acknowledged that he may have a union background but by no means is he still a unionist.
He said he had a meeting with Amcu and NUM and told them that sit-ins underground were a strategy that does not work.
He said that these unions "are giving employers an opportunity to destroy jobs" by continuing to use these unsanctioned protest actions and not following the Section 189 procedure.
Companies will justify terminating employees with the underground sit-ins and will fire miners in huge numbers, Mantashe explained.
“That will be the cheapest retrenchment you can ever witness in this industry,“ he emphasised. To me, it's not the best strategy because you expose those workers to (terminations).”
Moreover, Mantashe said that these workers are exposed to rock falls and methane gas poisonings. He noted that you should not expose your members to such dangers as a union.
Sit-ins underground are not a working strategy, he concluded.