In an exclusive interview with Sunday World this week, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe said his department will not intervene after Gold One Modder East Operations mine dismissed 401 workers.
“Industrial relations in mines are not run by DMRE [Department of Mineral Resources and Energy],” said Mantashe, who also serves as the ANC’s national chairperson.
“I am sure you know that. That is why when there is a disagreement, commissioners are seconded from the Department of Labour and not the DMRE.
“But when people talk to us, we do sometimes facilitate discussions …
I cannot sit there for employment issues
“I did not meet with the management of Gold One after the dismissals because we resolved the problem, including the hostage drama. We resolved that.
“People came out [from underground] then processes that are normal in the course of employment kicked in. I cannot sit there for employment issues.
“I don’t deal with dismissals. I was intervening in a situation where keeping workers underground is a risk to life, and I wanted to stop that.
“And I intervened successfully in that, and that crisis was resolved.”
Underground hostage situations
In December, a hostage unfolded at Gold One in Springs where 447 people had gone underground to perform their duties.
The hostage, motivated by protests against the dismissal of employees following the previous underground hostage drama in October, lasted five nights from December 7 December 11.
In October, 15 mineworkers held about 540 other miners hostage. They were held against their will from the evening of October 22 until October 25.
Gold One said at the time that the miners affiliated to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and who were keen to join the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) were responsible for the hostage.
However, Amcu dismissed the allegations, saying the workers had voluntarily decided to stage a sit-in underground due to the mine’s delay in facilitating a process to allow the workers to join Amcu and get out of the closed-shop agreement between the mine and the NUM.
- To get more details on the interview, LISTEN to the Audio below: