South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Monday more than 1,500 members will on Tuesday march against planned retrenchments at Sibanye Gold’s loss-making Cooke 4 mine.
Job cuts are a thorny issue in Africa’s most industrialised country where the unemployment rate is near 27 percent, a big concern for companies faced with labour disputes.
Sibanye began talks with unions for job cuts at the mine in July, after failing to stem heavy losses at the operation. The company first broached the subject of job cuts at the mine with unions in November 2014.
Since then Cooke 4 has continued to fall short of production targets and accumulate losses, which the company said threatened the viability of the other three Cooke operations.
The NUM, which has the lion’s share of membership in the gold sector, called on Sibanye to “surrender the mining licence to any responsible company that will be willing to mine Cook 4 operation” and vowed to fight the closure and job cuts.
“This drastic actions by the company will leave hundreds of mineworkers in a dire situation and the surrounding communities in the West Rand,” the union said in a statement, adding that 850 contract workers would join their march on Tuesday.
Sibanye’s spokesman James Wellsted said talks with unions, mining ministry officials and other parties were ongoing.
“It’s a bit puzzling why they are resorting to this rather than utilising the Section 189 process,” Wellsted said.
Section 189 is a legal requirement for companies to consult unions, the government and other stakeholders for up to 90 days over planned retrenchment process.
Sibanye says it employs 1,700 workers at Cooke 4 and about 7,000 workers at all its four Cooke operations.
(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by James Macharia)
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