Gold Fields protesters hostile, swear at NUM

2012-09-13 11:50

Swearing and hostility greeted an attempt by the National Union of Mineworkers to address striking mine workers at Gold Fields’ KDC West mine on the West Rand.

After a march of about 3km to a field near the mine, mine workers carrying sharpened sticks, iron rods and knobkerries began shouting at an NUM official trying to address them.

“Voetsek! F*k*f!” (go! f**k off!) shouted workers as he tried to speak.

As the shouting group, some wearing balaclavas, edged closer, the union man got into a Gold Fields armoured security vehicle.

Shouts of “Hamba!” (go) rang out as security tried to usher other NUM speakers away from the group.

The group formed a circle around those who urged them to give the NUM speakers a chance to address the group.

They responded by booing and shouting “voetsek” (get lost).

The NUM had hoped to address the strikers and the mine management in a bid to get workers back to their posts.

NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka earlier said: “We will meet Gold Fields and the workers today.”

Attempts to do so failed yesterday.

“Yesterday was a miscommunication. We could not meet,” said Seshoka.

The NUM official who took refuge in the Nyala, eventually spoke from inside the armoured vehicle, saying his union would assist the workers with their problems, but did not know about their grievances.

“We must get a solution to the situation,” he said, as the crowd shouted at him to come out of the vehicle.

At that point, the group charged towards a bus parked about 500m away with some NUM delegates in it.
The bus drove off with Nyalas driving behind it.

Earlier, on their way to the meeting, a worker remarked: “Our problem is that NUM leaders came to us two years ago to promise us back pay and equalisation. We have a huge problem here.”

Some complained about receiving duplicates, not originals, of payslips and others said there was no development at the mine.

“The leadership, they elect themselves,” said a worker.

One worker said it took six months to save enough to visit home.

Another wore a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Better wages. Equalisation. R12 500. The hands must wash each other” in isiZulu.

“We don’t promote violence. All we say to management is that we are hungry,” said a worker.

On Tuesday, mine security guards fired tear gas at workers they said were intimidating and threatening those trying to get to work.

Today mine spokesman Sven Lunsche said operations at other Gold Fields mines were doing fine, with no disruptions at the KDC east or Beatrix mines.

The company had also sent a written response to a memorandum of demands handed to it by workers after a march on Monday.

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