Thousands of miners have returned to work at South Africa’s Gold Fields mine, amid dismissal by the company of 1,500 workers who remain on strike.
About 11,000 miners, threatened with dismissal, ended a six-week-long stoppage at a facility in Carletonville, 40km west of Johannesburg.
“At the KDC West mine, the vast majority of workers are back at work. As far as we are concerned, the strike is over,” Sven Lunche, company spokesman, told the Deutsche Preese-Agentur news agency.
“The Beatrix mine is up and running. At Beatrix the situation is very stable and resumption of production is imminent.”.
Gold Fields, the world’s fourth largest bullion producer, has given 8,500 workers on a wildcat strike at KDC East,
another part of the mine, until early next week to report, or face losing their jobs if they continue to withhold their labour in their campaign for better pay and working conditions.
“The KDC East strike is ongoing and we have now issued a final ultimatum, which is effective from Monday night or Tuesday, depending on the workers’ shifts,” Lunche said.
“This is still an extremely volatile situation and things can change quickly.”
The company is reported to have lost an estimated $139 million in revenue since September.
For his part, President Jacob Zuma has pledged to speed up investment and infrastricture plans to ease the grievances which have fuelled the worst labour unrest since the apartheid era.
“The failure to invest in basic services in black communities over the decades of colonial oppression and apartheid is a critical element in the persistence of inequality today,” he said at a conference on infrastructure development on Friday.
A month-long strike at Anglo American Platinum, the world’s top producer of the precious metal, shows no sign of ending.
Workers are also still off the job at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine.
About 35,000 miners, or about seven per cent of the industry’s total workforce, are on strike and facing threats of dismissal, although roughly the same number have returned to work.
Nearly 50 people have died in unrest since August, including 34 striking miners shot dead by police on August 16 at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in the deadliest incident of its kind since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.
Thousands of Lonmin workers staged a one-day walkout on Thursday in protest against the arrest of colleagues suspected of murdering labour leaders.
Lonmin said on Friday it was back to normal operations, an announcement which has done little to quell market concerns. The price of gold dropped from gains early in the day as shares in Asia slipped following a three day rally.