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AngloGold Ashanti & Gold Fields Dismiss Over 20,000 Mine Workers   
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Two mining giants, AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Fields, have dismissed over twenty-thousand mine workers last week for misconduct.

AngloGold and Gold Fields have fired 12,000 and 8,500 wildcat strikers respectively after they ignored a deadline to return to work.

“The deadline has now passed and that means the process of issuing dismissals would begin now,” Spokesperson for AngloGold, Alan Fine has said in a statement. Last Monday, the company issued an ultimatum to workers to return to work or face dismissal.

“It is regretful that matters have reached this stage, with job losses now being threatened and livelihoods for thousands of families being placed at risk,” CEO of AngloGold, Mark Cutifani lamented, adding that, the dismissal workers would be allowed to appeal.

He said those who returned to work would receive the improved wage offer that was communicated to all employees by AngloGold Ashanti and separately by elected union representatives. AngloGold Ashanti miners have been on strike since September for a monthly salary of R16 000.

“The strike continues at the balance of our operations and it has become clear that we now need to take new steps to try and break this backlog to encourage a rapid return to the normality of those mines,” Cutifani said.

Gold Fields, on its part, fired 8,500 workers last Tuesday who refused to halt an illegal stoppage at its KDC East mine, a spokesperson said, adding that, all 8500 people who were on strike did not come back.

“They did not return to work, so we have issued dismissal letters to all of them," spokesperson Sven Lunsche told AFP.

He continued: “With every day that this unprofessional strike drags on, no salaries are paid, production is lost and crucially working places in these mines deteriorate.”

The firm let go 1,500 strikers at its KDC West mine on October 18, 2012 though most later appealed their dismissal. Mass dismissals are not unheard of in South Africa and are often part of a hard-ball negotiating strategy on the part of mine owners.

Tens of thousands of workers across South Africa's mining sector have been involved in a spate of illegal strikes over pay and conditions. The stayaways have crippled production in a sector that fuels 19 per cent of South Africa's economy, prompting pressure from employers, government and even the workers' own unions.
Source: Economic Tribune/Ghana

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