The strike at Kumba Iron Ore's mine is coming to a head as workers face the real threat of losing their jobs and eviction from the mine's premises.
Striking workers at Kumba's Sishen Mine outside of Kathu in the Northern Cape have not reported for disciplinary hearings set down for Monday and are likely to face dismissal.
"These will now proceed in their absence and they may be dismissed," said company spokesperson Gert Schoeman.
Schoeman said the striking workers were served with a Labour Court order stating that they immediately leave the company's premises and were not allowed to be within 500 metres of it.
"Should they not leave the company's premises immediately; the South African Police Service has been ordered by the court to remove them."
A group of 300 workers downed tools on the October 3, joining a wave of unprotected strikes which have swept across South Africa's mining sector. A court order declaring the strike as unprotected and unlawful was served on the strikers last week, but did little to curb the unrest.
Only on Friday did Kumba reveal that the striking employees had also seized R3.3-billion worth of mining equipment – including 88 haul trucks and 13 pieces of secondary equipment.
The group has taken up position on top of one of the mine dumps adjacent to Sesheng township in Kathu and are demanding a monthly salary increase of R15 000 for all Kumba employees and have threatened to destroy the equipment if their demands are not met.
Schoeman said the lost ore production is equal to $14-million per day.
It is estimated that of the original group, less than 120 strikers remain on the dump. Most of these have abandoned the strike – some have even handed themselves over to the police while others have left for medical reasons, Kumba said.
Police spokesperson, Colonel Hendrick Swart, told the Mail & Guardian that police had not yet reacted but that cases had been opened regarding the stolen equipment.