Some S.A. miners return to work

Oct. 19, 2012 at 8:38 AM
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RUSTENBURG, South Africa, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Nearly all of the 15,000 gold miners in South Africa who had faced the prospect of being fired for striking have reported for work, their employer said.

Gold Fields said the 1,500 miners who did not return for work Thursday were fired, the BBC reported.

Workers at other gold mines remained off the job.

South Africa's mining sector has been plagued recently by unrest and violence, which left nearly 50 people dead and hit South Africa's economy. To try to end the disputes, South African President Jacob Zuma this week urged workers to return to work and called on company executives to freeze their salaries.

Several thousand workers at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana were off the job for about five hours Thursday to protest the arrest of mine employees in the killing of a National Union of Mineworkers local representative, The Wall Street Journal said.

A company spokesman said all miners had resumed work at the Marikana facility Friday.

Since the wave of strikes began, police have raided hostels in search of those believed responsible for the killings and property destruction at mines such as Lonmin's operation, the Journal said. The government also put soldiers on alert so they can be deployed if needed.

Analysts and miners say some of the unrest can be attributed to disputes between rival unions, the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. The Marikana miners' strike started as a struggle for miner representation between the NUM and the AMCU.

The Chamber of Mines, which represents gold miners, met Thursday with unions to try to find a solution to the strikes.

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