Gold Fields tells Miners to Pack and Go

A leading gold mine in South Africa started evicting thousands of its striking workers from company dormitories on Tuesday as work stoppages spread to more gold and platinum mines. Gold Fields ordered 5 000 workers who have been on strike for three weeks to vacate the mine hostels, saying striking workers there were intimidating their fellow employees.

Workers at another mine, belonging to Anglo American Platinum, downed tools on Tuesday, and the firm held disciplinary hearings for the strikers. And at a southern African miner, Gold One, the bulk of 1 800 workers have also embarked on an illegal strike since Monday night.

Gold Fields, the world’s number four producer of the precious metal, said it had decided to throw out the strikers from the company hostels as these places were becoming increasingly violent and were being used by the strikers to intimidate, plan and co-ordinate illegal activities.

“The hostels are effectively becoming lawless, and so we decided to put an end to that and close them down for the miners who live there,” Gold Fields spokesperson Sven Lunsche told AFP.

In a copycat move of the deadly Lonmin Marikana mine strike, Gold Fields’ protesting workers on Tuesday gathered on a nearby hill and kept a vigil there, with some planning to spend the night there. The Lonmin mine strike ended with hefty pay hike last month.

Gold Fields’ KDC West mine – near Johannesburg, which employs 15 000 people – has been crippled since September 9, slowing production by 1 400 ounces of gold a day. Strikes have spread like wildfire in South Africa since the deadly work stoppage that started at a mine of world’s number three platinum producer Lonmin in August.

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