Carletonville - Mineworkers swore at a union official at Gold Fields' KDC west mine in Carletonville on Thursday when he tried to address them.
“Voetsek! Fokof!” (Go! Fuck off!) shouted workers carrying sharpened sticks, iron rods and an axe.
As the group, some wearing balaclavas, edged closer, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) member tried to address them from inside a Gold Fields armoured security vehicle.
Shouts of “Hamba!” (Go!) rang out as security guards tried to usher the miners away. They also toyi-toyied and sang in front of the vehicle, and some threw sticks at it.
The group formed a circle around their representatives, who were urging them to give the NUM speakers a chance to address them.
The official again tried to speak to them, but in vain. He claimed the NUM was not aware of the miners' grievances.
Miners saw a bus with NUM officials on board about 200 metres away and stormed the vehicle, which sped away.
On Wednesday, teargas was fired after the mine said workers were intimidating and threatening other, non-striking workers.
As they stood around on Thursday, workers discussed whether they should go to the number eight shaft, but by mid afternoon they started walking away, and said they were going home.
About 85 percent of Gold Fields' 15 000 workforce have been on strike since Sunday.
On Monday the workers handed in a list of demands after a march.
The demands included the removal of the NUM's branch leadership at the mine, pay equalisation, and a pay increase to R12,500.
The company has subsequently responded in writing. It said that:
* the call to remove NUM branch leadership was a NUM issue;
* wages and salary issues should be raised through the collective bargaining forum;
* regarding the reinstatement of 25 suspended workers: a disciplinary hearing took place with an independent chairman and a ruling was due to come out on that;
* Regarding the equalisation of pay across job categories at all its mines: an agreement had already been signed with the NUM that this would be rectified and the process of rectification was taking place.
Earlier, on their way to the meeting, a worker remarked: “Our problem is that NUM leaders came to us two years ago to promise us back pay and equalisation. We have a huge problem here.”
Some complained about receiving duplicates, not originals, of payslips and others said there was no development at the mine.
“The leadership, they elect themselves,” said a worker.
After the payslip issue was raised, Lunsche said the company did issue original payslips.
He said these had been simplified at the request of employees, but if this was an issue, it could be revisited.
One worker said it took six months to save enough to visit home.
Lunsche said operations at other Gold Fields mine were doing fine, with no disruptions at the KDC east or Beatrix mines. - Sapa