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Gold Fields wins court interdict against NUM as South Deep strike takes hostile turn - MiningMX

Sunday, 4 November 2018

GOLD Fields said between 150 and 200 members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had blockaded entrances to South Deep mine where strike action began on November 2. This followed an earlier decision by the gold producer to retrench staff.

The company also warned that strike action could imperil further jobs and materially decrease South Deep’s chances of improving its financial performance. It feared the NUM was waging a war of disinformation.

“We had no choice but to seek a court injunction as the NUM branch leadership refused to provide us with guarantees that they would respect the rights of non-striking workers,” said Gold Fields CEO, Nick Holland in a statement on Sunday afternoon (December 4).

Only limited essential services teams are working at the mine.

Gold Fields said NUM members had prevented employees from reporting for work. There were also incidents of property damage at the mine. The interdict was served on the NUM branch leadership this morning, Gold Fields said. It had advised employees not to report for work for the time being. “It means that production will be stopped until the situation has normalised and it is safe for our people to return to work,” said Gold Fields.

Gold Fields announced on August 14 that it would cut 1,560 permanent and contractor jobs in an effort to bring the mine into profitability after reporting a R295m outflow in the second quarter. South Deep currently employs 3,614 full-time employees and 1,940 contractors. The company is due to report third quarter numbers on November 9.

“Gold Fields is concerned that the NUM branch has misled employees about the potential outcomes of a strike. The current retrenchment process is being undertaken in line with legislation and collective agreements. South Deep is not in a position to reverse the decision,” it said.

“Before the strike, the mine was losing – on average – R3m per day,” said Gold Fields. “For every day where there is no production, the losses could worsen, further imperilling the mine’s operation and leading to even more job losses. As the principle of no work, no pay applies, employees will also lose a significant amount of money for every day the strike continues, both in terms of direct pay and in terms of benefits,” it added.

Gold Fields refuted NUM allegations that it had been aggressive to employees saying “… nothing could be further from the truth”. In fact, the NUM branch leadership had “… from the outset of consultations threatened to bring the mine to a standstill”.

“The retrenchments are essential to reduce the risk of continuing operating losses and consolidate the current mining operations as a first step to building a sustainable mine. We are very concerned about the further impact that industrial action will have on the mine – and on our employees, with potentially more job losses,” said Holland.

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