Mass layoffs loom at Gold One mine after protests

Gold One International could dismiss more than 500 workers at a South African mine after two incidents last year in which hundreds of employees stayed underground for days.

The Sydney-based gold miner will dismiss 401 workers at its Modder East operations and has suspended a further 140 whose disciplinary hearings will likely take place within the next week, Ziyaad Hassam, head of legal at Gold One, said by phone on Tuesday.

Underground sit-ins are becoming more prevalent as a means of protest at South African mines, with Impala Platinum and Wesizwe Platinum also reporting incidents in December.

Disputes over the recognition of labour unions at the mine east of Johannesburg led to workers staying below the surface in October and December last year.

Local media, including Rapport newspaper, reported some employees were assaulted and had been held under duress.

The National Union of Mineworkers will represent its members at Gold One when they appeal their dismissal on the grounds that they were forced to be part of the sit-in, national spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said. 

The union will meet with the mine’s management to discuss the matter further before taking any further steps.

“The majority of workers are quite shaken about this dismissal,” he said.


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