JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – ASX- and JSE-listed Gold One CEO and president Neal Froneman said on Monday that the police had to use teargas and rubber bullets to disperse an illegal gathering at its Modder East mine in Gauteng.
Froneman was reacting to media reports, which stated that striking miners, represented by the Professional Transport and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (PTAWU), had been shot and injured at the mine.
“The reports have made it sound as if live ammunition was used; it is not true. Rubber bullets were fired by our security guards and thepolice to disperse the crowd,” he told Mining Weekly Online, adding that one person was injured.
Gold One said the police had to revert to teargas and rubber bullets to re-establish free passage to the mine, after a group of 60 people, including former employees who were dismissed in June for taking part in an unlawful strike, blocked access.
The workers demanded their jobs back, with a higher salary, while intimidating workers reporting for duty. No memorandum of demands was presented. Former workers from the neighbouring Pamodzi Gold East Rand mine also engaged in the gathering.
“They are trying to keep those workers who have returned to work from going back,” Froneman noted.
He confirmed that although the morning’s shift started late and more than half of the company’s workers stayed away, owing to intimidation and the illegal blockade, it was not expected to severely affect production.
Froneman added that the group damaged a minibus taxi that transported workers to the mine, when they threw stones at vehicles that were attempting to gain access to the operations.
“There are still a few there taking part in the illegal gathering, but the police are there ensuring free access to the mine,” he noted.
Responding to the question of whether Gold One would engage in talks with the group to resolve matters, he said: “We are willing to interview people…but we will not be intimidated into doing things.”
Froneman said Gold One did not recognise PTAWU, as it did not represent enough of its employees.
PTAWU general secretary Reckson Baloyi could not be reached for comment.
Gold One earlier confirmed at least four attacks on its employees in recent weeks, following the dismissal of 1 044 workers at Modder East in June. Two of the four attacks were fatal and a third had resulted in the hospitalisation of an employee.
Froneman said the labour issues at Gold One formed part of a bigger, industry-wide problem.
The Gold One news comes as 12 000 workers continued to strike at Gold Fields' KDC East mine, on the West Rand, over an internal dispute between the local branch leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and certain employee groupings, who are demanding the resignation of local NUM branch office bearers.