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NUM calls for its local leaders to end Gold Fields strike

Workers began protesting after Gold Fields said it was planning to layoff about 1 100 employees and 400 contractors.

The South African union that started a strike over a month ago at Gold Fields’ South Deep mine called for an end to the action, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg, but the labour group’s local leadership said it will wait for a decision by members.

The strike started on November 2 after Gold Fields said it wanted to cut about 1 100 employees and 400 contractors as part of efforts to turn around the unprofitable mine. More than 900 workers accepted severance packages last week.

Branch leaders should “bring this strike to an end,” the National Union of Mineworkers’ regional office said in the letter dated December 2, addressed to NUM’s South Deep branch chairperson and secretary. Members have expressed concern that continuing the strike is counterproductive and threatens the remaining jobs at the operation, the letter said.

South Deep is the world’s second-biggest known body of gold-bearing ore but has seen more than a decade of poor performance. Gold Fields would consider extending a settlement offer to workers if the union branch is willing to end the strike, said company spokesman Sven Lunsche.

There are no plans to end the strike, said NUM branch chairman at Gold Fields Kanetso Matabane. South Deep Branch Secretary Thulani Mashibini said he is aware of a meeting of South Deep employees taking place on Monday, although he was not invited.

“We are dependent on the members of the union,” he said. “They will be the same members that will say let us stop the strike.”

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