Kumba axes over 100 protesting workers

About 120 striking workers at Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine, in the Northern Cape, have been dismissed after failing to attend disciplinary hearings. (Gallo)

About 120 striking workers at Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine, in the Northern Cape, have been dismissed after failing to attend disciplinary hearings. (Gallo)

Mine spokesperson Gert Schoeman said the illegal strikers, who had occupied the mine since October 3, had not left the mine or reported for their disciplinary hearings by 11am on Monday, as instructed.

"As a result, they have been dismissed and criminal charges have been laid against them," Schoeman said in a statement.

"A few strikers, who are not part of the group continuing the illegal occupation of the mine, are attending the disciplinary hearings to present reasons why they should not be dismissed."

Schoeman said the strikers occupying the mine were also served with a Labour Court order on Monday ordering them to immediately leave the premises and to release equipment they had.

They were not allowed to be within 500m of the company's premises. If they failed to leave, the police would be called to remove them, he added.

Last week, about 300 miners on the night shift stopped working and seized a fleet of heavy mining equipment worth R3.3-billion to block an entrance to a mine pit.

The workers wanted a monthly salary increase of R15 000 for all Kumba employees, over and above what they already earned. The company said although the workers had threatened to destroy equipment, only limited damage had been caused. Schoeman said the strikers had seized the bulk of the mine's heavy equipment fleet and remained on top of the mine dumps.

Production at the mine was suspended on October 4 and the company was losing about 120 000 tonnes in production per day, Schoeman said. The mine concluded a wage settlement with its recognised unions two months ago, Schoeman said.

It had a two-year wage agreement in place, concluded two months ago with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity. The agreement made provision for a total cost-to-company increase of between nine and 12%.

The company said 95% of the illegal strikers were NUM members, who wanted to represent themselves. – Sapa

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