Five People Shot At Gold One
Gold One CEO, Neal Froneman, has confirmed illegal protests were held at its Modder East mine today where police used rubber bullets and tear gas in order to disperse the crowd.
Police spokesperson, Captain Pinky Tsinyane, reported earlier on Monday that the shooting incident left four people injured and another “critical”. Gold One has since reported however, that four people sustained minor injuries during the incident, were admitted to hospital for examination and were discharged shortly thereafter.
Gold One reports that at a group of approximately 60 individuals, consisting of former Gold One employees who were dismissed during June 2012 for participating in an illegal strike as well as former employees of Pamodzi Gold East Rand, illegally gathered at the main entrance to Modder East. “The group did not present any memorandum of demands, but blocked all access in and out of the mine and threw stones at vehicles.
“At approximately 7:30am [on Monday], protestors prevented a minibus taxi from entering the mine and, after severely damaging the taxi, attempted to attack the occupants of the vehicle. Security personnel intervened and were forced to utilise rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
This was done to protect the people arriving in the vehicle and to protect property Neal Froneman, CEO of Gold One told Mineweb.
An earlier SENS announcement said the South African Police Service addressed the group extensively, informing them that the gathering was illegal and requesting them to disperse. The group, however, refused to disperse.
“At approximately 11:30am the South African Police Service was forced to use teargas to disperse the group, which had again become violent.
Tsinyane said four people had been arrested for public violence.
Despite the illegal gathering and on-going intimidation of employees, the company is pleased to advise that none of its existing employees have partaken in any strike action and more than 90% of the workforce reported for duty following access to the mine being re-established.”
“The High Court interdict obtained by the company on 13 June 2012, which interdicts protest at Modder East, remains in place and therefore today’s protest is illegal,” says the SENS statement.
Talking to Moneyweb, the CEO displayed unhappiness with the fact that such a small number of people were allowed to intimidate the miner’s workers who wanted to go to work. The miner employs approximately 500 people.
The strikes in June led to the dismissal of over 1 000 employees by Gold One.
Gold One said that the unlawful industrial action that occurred at Modder East in June was initially motivated by a demand from the Professional Transport and Allied Workers Union (PTAWU), which had minority membership at the operation, to be granted organisational rights by Gold One.
This it said was later expanded to include a number of demands on conditions of employment and amongst others, basic wages. Gold One said that it has an existing three-year wage agreement with its employees that terminates in December 2012.
The minority union at Modder East, PTAWU, said that it intends to seek further legal recourse in order to get its members re-instated.
“I think that PTAWU have missed the point…they continue to misinform their members. They believe that they were incorrectly dismissed. They were not,” said Froneman.
The miner said that it had been re-engaging people after the strikes and had invited dismissed workers to come back. The mine is in a process of trying to build up production after the unrest.
Froneman said that he believes that Monday’s events are a direct result of Malema’s talks to workers in the area last week.
“Julius made it well known that he wanted to start a mine revolution so this has a huge amount of politics involved,” said Froneman.
Malema is reported to have called for miners countrywide to make all mines “ungovernable” and to carry on with strike action.
Froneman said that Monday’s actions had relatively little impact on the mine’s own production but that the impact from a national point of view was severe.
“This is not what we need in the industry…..I think that I am one of the few advocates in the industry and with the inability to operate in an environment where you can debate and discuss issues and not just demands …this is not good,” said Froneman.
Malema turns to Goldfields
Whilst these events are unfolding, Julius Malema has also reportedly addressed workers who are on strike at Gold Fields.
The gold miner reported that approximately 12 000 employees are participating in a strike which started last week Wednesday.
Gold Fields said that it appears that the strike is the result of an internal dispute between the local branch leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers and certain employee groupings within the NUM membership, who are demanding the resignation and replacement of local NUM branch office bearers.
Meanwhile, with peace accord talks expected to resume at Lonmin on Monday, the miner reported its lowest attendance figure of only 4.5% today.