Hope for more negotiations as mine strikes continue

"Nothing much has changed since Saturday. At the moment we are not negotiating but we can't have them wondering around in the mine," spokesperson Gert Schoeman said. "It is all about safety. At the moment our priority is to normalise the situation and we need them to leave the mine. We also can't start blasting and drilling when they are moving about inside – that is not safe."

He said the group of "less that 300" workers staging the sit-in moved around, but mainly based themselves at one mine dump.

Kumba suspended production at Sishen Mine on Thursday due to the strikers blocking access to the pit, creating an unsafe environment for mining operations.

On Thursday, the strikers presented their demand of a R15 000 monthly increase for all staff. "They still only have that one demand," said Schoeman.

Earlier this week, Schoeman said Kumba concluded a two-year wage agreement with organised labour two months ago that made provision for a salary increase of between 9% and 12%, which was well above the rate of inflation.

He said that even though the workers belonged to unions, namely Solidarity and the National Union of Mineworkers, they were representing themselves.

"We can't speak to 300 individuals – so it took two days for them to choose their representatives," he said. "The company has made ourselves available to talk to them at any time and hope negotiations can continue once they leave the mine."

Sishen Mine employs approximately 12 700 workers.

No clear indication
There was no clear indication of whether striking mineworkers at Anglo Gold Ashanti's Mponeng mine would return to work as requested, the company said. 

"We will only be able to see when the night shift is scheduled to start work," spokesperson Alan Fine said.

During a meeting at the mine, outside Fochville in the North West, on Friday, the company distributed pamphlets, urging workers to end their unprotected strike. In the pamphlet, Mponeng general manager Randel Fadermann appealed to miners return to work. "As we are approaching a new week, I urge you all to report to your place of work on Monday, [so] we can start working towards a safe and sustainable future together."

Fine said the situation remained quiet over the weekend.

On Friday, hundreds of mineworkers gathered on a hilltop at the Mahalesuku informal settlement near the mine. They were told that their representatives would meet unions to discuss their demands.

On Tuesday, AngloGold Ashanti and other gold companies would meet organised labour at the Chamber of Mines to work on an agreement to fast-track the negotiation process.

Workers downed tools on September 25, demanding a monthly salaries of R18 500. – Sapa

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