NUM starts appeals process for workers dismissed at Gold One Mine

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The National Union of Mineworkers has embarked on an appeals process for workers dismissed at Gold One Mine. This following the dismissal of 401 miners, a number that has since jumped to 445. The workers are charged with, amongst others, staging an illegal sit-in at the underground gold mine in Springs last year.

Workers downed tools over a labour dispute on organising rights at the mine, leading to over 500 workers failing to resurface from an underground shaft in what the mine deemed as a hostage situation.

It’s a bleak start to the year for Gold One mineworkers in Springs following the dismissal of almost 500 workers at the facility. At the end of last year, the mine instituted disciplinary hearings for all of the workers involved in two underground demonstrations and an illegal strike action, charging the workers with, amongst others, destruction of property and costing the company millions of rands over mine closures.

“It brings us no satisfaction to have employees lose their jobs and a sanction of dismissal is the most severe form and not taken lightly. The severance of last year’s incidents warranted this action, apart from endangering the lives of fellow employees, the actions of those demonstrating has cost the company several millions of rands hard to quantify the exact losses but we estimate in the region of 12 to 15 million in daily losses,” says Gold One Mine Head of Legal Ziyaad Hassam.

At the heart of the standoff is a closed shop agreement entered into between the mine and the NUM in 2012 that gives the union exclusivity at the mine. That agreement was terminated on the 14th of December 2023, giving AMCU rights to organise alongside the NUM at the mine.

“We are saying 400, how many people are dependent on the salary of the employees, it’s not only them, their families, they lost, even us as a union. As NUM we are busy with a process of appeals because we know that there were employees held hostage who were not participating and we are now in a process of filing appeals,” says NUM branch secretary Sifiso Nkosi.

Despite text messages from management, some workers say they are in the dark about the dismissals. Some received their letters as they were reporting for duty. They have been ordered to visit Boksburg for an exit assessment, a move they’ve since slammed, hoping for the reversal of the dismissals.

“All we wanted through that underground sit in was to be recognised as members of AMCU because we are leaving the NUM because it is not doing anything for us,” a worker says.

“We were shocked to find ourselves blocked from entering the mine when reporting for duty, we hadn’t even received dismissal letters, the mine failed to follow proper processes in these dismissals,” another worker explains.

“I am one of the workers that didn’t receive their December salary, when inquiring out of concern, I was told I am fired and had to come in to sign dismissal letter so that I can get what’s left of my salary,” another worker elaborates.

The company has resumed operations for 2024 under a heavy police and security contingent, maintaining that it cannot afford further losses. It continues meeting with the two unions, NUM and AMCU, on labour peace at the facility.

The workers have been given three days to appeal the dismissal with the mine maintaining that due processes were followed.

Most have been sent to Boksburg for an exit process but have slammed this move as they maintain their innocence saying they can’t afford to start the year jobless.

Video: Gold One mine fires 401 members of staff