The total number of workers fired by Gold One Modder East Operations mine has increased from 401 to 451. Their dismissal was the result of an underground sit-in which started in October. A further 44 workers are still on suspension.
Gold One’s head of legal, Ziyaad Hassam, confirmed this to Sunday World on Wednesday.
Initial sit-in protest
In October last year, hundreds of employees refused to come to ground for nearly three days. The sit-in was a protest against the company’s failure to recognise the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu). Mineworkers held about 540 other miners hostage. They were held hostage from the evening of October 22 until October 25.
Some 34 miners were subsequently dismissed as a result. In response, miners held another sit-in in December, protesting against the dismissals.
Since the December sit-in, 451 mineworkers have now been dismissed. This was the culmination of the investigation into all the incidents, dating from the first sit-in.
Some of the dismissed workers were fighting for reinstatement, with the company having received appeals in excess of 300.
The suspension was for their involvement in the hostage situations that took place at the Springs-based mine in Ekurhuleni last year.
“A total of 44 employees are still on suspension, and the proceedings on disciplinary and appeal hearings are taking place daily,” said Hassam.
Two weeks ago, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) deputy secretary-general Mpho Phakedi said the union would lodge an appeal. He said the appeal will be done through Gold One’s internal company policies. The move is to have the workers reinstated.
Hostage drama In December
In December, 447 mineworkers had gone underground to work. The hostage situation lasted for five nights, from December 7 to December 11. This was following the underground hostage drama in October, where mineworkers were dismissed.
Gold One said at the time that the miners affiliated with the NUM who were keen to join the Amcu were responsible for the hostage incident. However, Amcu dismissed the allegations, saying the workers had voluntarily decided to stage a sit-in.
It said this was due to the mine’s delay in facilitating a process to allow them to join Amcu. The mineworkers also wanted to get out of the closed-shop agreement between the mine and NUM.
Closed-shop agreement no longer in place
The closed-shop agreement between Gold One and NUM effectively came to an end on December 14, 2023, after NUM terminated it. Meanwhile, Hassam said there is no need for a ballot to be conducted because the closed-shop agreement is no longer in place.
“There will not be a ballot as the closed-shop agreement was terminated unilaterally by NUM,” said Hassam. A ballot would determine whether employees elect to continue with the closed-shop agreement, so this is no longer necessary.
Amcu verification process
“We have, however, commenced with the Amcu verification process. The desktop verification was finalised last Friday [January 19, 2024]. Physical verification is scheduled to take place on site this Friday.”
Previously, Hassam said NUM bore the responsibility of conducting the ballot. The ballot was to determine which union the employees wanted to join between NUM and Amcu. This was after the Labour Court judgement on November 17, 2023, that the ballot should be held within 15 business days.