Operations at Gold One Modder East mine have been suspended until Monday over security threats.
This after after the company received information on Wednesday night about another hostage situation attempt.
Two weeks ago, 15 mineworkers held about 540 miners hostage underground at the mine in Springs, east of Johannesburg.
The miners were held against their will from Sunday night October 22, until Wednesday afternoon October 25 when they resurfaced.
Gold One mine head of legal Ziyaad Hassam told Sunday World on Thursday that scuffles broke out between mineworkers on Wednesday night during a night shift.
He said another hostage situation had been planned for Wednesday night.
“Through the course of yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, we received information that there may be a planned illegal sit-in.
“This could lead to another hostage situation within the coming days. We were on high alert.
“At the beginning of night shift yesterday (Wednesday) there were a few scuffles which had broken out and it appeared that the planned sit-in was going to happen last night (Wednesday).
“At that stage around 80 people had gone underground. We successfully managed to bring those people back to the surface.
“The night shift was then cancelled and we were able to foil any attempted sit-in last night.
“We are still assessing the full impact and extent of what had gone on yesterday.
“We will be in a position to make further comment later on today (Thursday),” said Hassam.
Attempted hostage situation
He said he suspects that the attempted sit-in could be related to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)’s claim for organisational rights at the mine.
Hassam said the mine has requested the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to provide the company with a plan for the timing of the ballot, which will determine how many of its members remain in favour of the closed-shop agreement.
“We are in constant consultation with them (NUM) in this regard. At this stage, no date has been agreed to,” said Hassam.
Hassam said Gold One has a closed-shop agreement with NUM, which allows it to be the only union representing Gold One workers.
“The current closed-shop agreement is with the NUM. Amcu has submitted a petition on behalf of several employees to terminate the closed-shop agreement,” said Hassam.
“NUM must now conduct a ballot to determine how many of its members remain in favour of the closed-shop agreement.
“The company will assist in ensuring the fairness of any such ballot, and the CCMA will be asked to facilitate it.”
Gold One said miners belonging to Amcu were responsible for the previous hostage situation.
The leadership of Amcu dismissed the hostage allegations, saying the workers had staged a sit-in underground.
The union said the miners were frustrated with the mine’s delay in recognising Amcu as their preferred trade union of choice.
A total of 42 employees have now been suspended for allegedly being responsible for the hostage situation. Thirty-four employees were suspended last week.
Earlier this week, Amcu general secretary Jeff Mphahlele said Amcu has given Gold One a deadline of when the ballot process should take place.
Threats of another hostage
He said failure to do so will result in the union taking legal action against the mining group.
Mphahlele said he could not remember the exact date of the deadline.
“[Amcu is] not yet a recognised union, so we are monitoring the situation from a distance legally.
“We are waiting to see what will happen with regards to this ballot.
“The ballot is a non-starter. It will not happen fairly if it is done by the mine and the NUM.
“If they do not meet the deadline, we will take them to court. This is an urgent matter,” said Mphahlele.
NUM acting regional secretary Mlulameli Mweli said the union is committed to conducting the ballot.
“We are relieved that all miners resurfaced, and we are not opposed to any process done legally,” said Mweli.
“[The company] will do the ballot legally, not because Amcu is pushing us. Amcu is running away from the processes.”
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