National NUM intervenes in Gold Fields impasse amid ongoing violence

NUM to engage Sibanye-Stillwater mine on rising deaths of workers at its mines
NUM to engage Sibanye-Stillwater mine on rising deaths of workers at its mines

National leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers have met with leadership at Gold Fields over industrial action at the company’s South Deep mine, according to the gold miner.

NUM deputy president Phillip Vilakazi and secretary general Kolekile Sipunzi met with Gold Fields on Wednesday to discuss a resolution to the strike, which started at the beginning of the month.

This is the first time that the union’s national leadership has met with Gold Fields since the beginning of the strike. Up to this point, the mine has dealt with South Deep branch and regional leadership.

A major concern has been incidences of violence that prevented workers who wanted to report for duty from getting to work.

Spokesperson for Gold Fields Sven Lunsche told Fin24 that while violence was not constant on the operations, it was present, despite a court interdict presenting violence and disruptions.

"The strike continues and none of our production teams have been able to enter the mines. The violence from NUM continues. They continue to stop cars. A striker shot live ammunition into a car. We lodged this with the police to enforce the court interdict," said Lunsche.

Lunsche said the national NUM office engaged with Gold Fields on Wednesday and that they would continue to meet on Thursday to seek an end to the strike. It was the first time since the beginning of the strike, Lunche said.

"They were very frank conversations. [Union representatives] are interested in ending the strike and they are aware of the hardship. They urge both the branch and us to come together," said Lunche.

"For us it is a big concern to have violence. The strike is legal, but we have every right and an interdict to allow people to access the mine. It is still a small amount of violence, but it is concerning," he said.

While Gold Fields blames the union for the violent disruptions at South Deep, NUM has said private security personal appointed by the company was perpetuating the violence.

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