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1,700 jobs under threat at South Africa gold mine

14 July, 2016IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), says it is determined to fight the retrenchment 1,702 jobs at the Cooke 4 gold and uranium mine in South Africa. 

The NUM has said it is shocked and saddened to receive notice from Sibanye Gold of the retrenchments of almost the entire workforce at its operation in Westonaria, west of Johannesburg.

In a statement on 11 July, the NUM called on the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, to intervene immediately to stop the retrenchments that will leave hundreds of mineworkers and surrounding communities in a dire situation.

"The NUM will fight tooth and nail to make sure that its members are not retrenched cheaply. The NUM remains fearless, committed, dedicated and unshaken in fighting for the mineworkers. The NUM does not want to see mineworkers being retrenched. We will engage Sibanye Gold,” said the union. 

Sibanye intends to shut down the unprofitable mineshaft at Cooke 4 to concentrate on other operations at Cooke 1, 2 and 3. However, the NUM says that the mine has been operating at a loss because of improper planning in terms of labour and production.

NUM says the company has failed to provide proper and adequate equipment needed to reach production targets, and that the operation is pumping out water at a cost of R18 million (US$1.25 million) a month.

However, Cooke 4 could be profitable, argues NUM, if Sibanye recruits new, skilled employees, changes the infrastructure and resolves the geological issues underground.

“With so many jobs and livelihoods at stake, we urge Sibanye Gold to explore all means possible of salvaging the mine at Cooke 4 and dedicate the right people and the right resources to turning it around,” said IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan.

The NUM will have the first consultation meeting with Sibanye Gold on 20 July under the auspices of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. The NUM is meeting with all the affected employees.