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South African Gold Firm Gives Ultimatum to Striking Miners

  • VOA News

A woman sits beneath a billboard for the National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa's North West province on Oct. 13, 2012.

A woman sits beneath a billboard for the National Union of Mineworkers in South Africa's North West province on Oct. 13, 2012.

A South African gold producer is giving more than 22,000 striking mineworkers until Thursday to return to work or face immediate dismissal.

A top official at Gold Fields, Nick Holland, said in a statement Tuesday the company has done everything possible to deal with concerns of the striking employees.

But he said they refuse to return to work, that they "maintain an uncompromising and hardline attitude," and are responsible for violence, intimidation and damage to property.

Gold Fields said strikes at three different mines have cost the company more than 1,800 kilograms in gold production and $137 million in revenue.

South Africa's mining sector has been roiled by a series of strikes and protests since a strike at a platinum mine turned violent in August.

Forty-six people died during that strike, including 34 in a shooting by police.

Those workers eventually won a 22 percent pay raise, sparking calls for pay hikes by workers at other mines.

Two of the Gold Fields strikes began last month, and the third one started on Sunday. About 12,000 of the company's employees have not gone on strike.

Local reports Tuesday said some of the striking workers were returning to work.

Gold Fields is one of the world's largest gold producers.
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