Gold Fields' KDC East miners yet to resume work

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 23, 2012 3:05 AM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Gold Fields said on Tuesday striking workers at its KDC East operations in South Africa are yet to return to work despite the company issuing an ultimatum for the employees to resume work or face dismissal.

South Africa is struggling to resolve violent unrest that has poisoned industrial relations and marred its image overseas.

"So far we have no turnout at KDC East but the final deadline is this afternoon," said company spokesman Sven Lunsche.

He said the company would provide another update at 4:00 p.m. local time (1400 GMT). About 8,500 workers at the KDC East were issued an ultimatum to start returning to work with the night shift on Monday and the morning and afternoon shifts on Tuesday.

With the government now pressing miners to return to work, more companies are resorting to hard-ball negotiating tactics to end wildcat strikes. Some have been successful.

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd, the world's No.3 gold producer, told striking South African miners on Monday to return to work by Wednesday or face dismissal.

Anglo American Platinum, the world's largest platinum producer, was the first to take a stand, sacking 12,000 workers at its Rustenburg operations earlier this month.

Amplats' Rustenburg mines have been shut since Sept 12. It said on Thursday it would delay the dismissal process at Union and Amandelbult, where it employs 20,500 people. It also said it was open to discussing the reinstatement of the sacked workers with unions.

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The strikes spread into other mining industries after starting in the platinum mines. At Lonmin Plc's Marikana mine in Rustenburg police shot dead 34 miners in one day in August, the most violent police action in South Africa's post-apartheid history.

A government-appointed commission investigating the "Marikana massacre" heard opening statements from police, unions and Lonmin on Monday.

(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda; editing by David Dolan)