Lengthy strike over Gold Fields job cuts ends

NUM members end strike at Gold Fields South Deep mine. (Photo: File, Netwerk24)
NUM members end strike at Gold Fields South Deep mine. (Photo: File, Netwerk24)

Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] has reached an agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers to end a crippling 45-day strike which shut down operations at its South Deep Mine, the company announced on Tuesday.

The strike, which began on November 2, was in protest over retrenchments by the firm.

According to the company, in terms of the agreement, the retrenchments of 1 082 employees will go ahead, with most of them already processed.

The retrenched employees have been offered portable skills training to assist in their future job searches, Gold Fields said in a statement.

"With the strike over and our cost base adjusted to the reduced operating footprint and output, we believe that we are well positioned to put South Deep on a sustainable road to recover and significantly reduce our monthly cash losses at the mine," said Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland.

"We now need to put this difficult period behind us and work together to build a sustainable future for our employees, our communities, our shareholders and other stakeholders."

South Deep is the world's second largest gold-bearing ore mine, but has been unprofitable for a decade, due to deep deposits and rising costs.

The mine experienced financial loses of around R6m per day as a result of the strike. Gold Fields took a decision to restructure its South Deep operations in mid-August, "in response to continued high financial losses of around R100m a month".

The decision was met with fierce criticism from the NUM and the Minister of Minerals Resources Gwede Mantashe.

The NUM spokesperson, Livhuwani Mammburu confirmed that the strike had ended.

The company said production was expected to build up gradually from now on ,with the mine set to run production during the Christmas and New Year break.

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