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Northam Platinum workers continue strike

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Mine workers will continue striking at Northam Platinum’s Zondereinde mine in Limpopo despite a court interdict ordering them to return to work, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Friday.

“They are continuing with the strike and they are also aware of the interdict,” said acting national spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu.

“The reason they’re continuing with the strike is because they cannot allow a situation where Zondereinde Platinum alters policies whenever they like, because as workers they fought hard for those policies to be there in the company.”

Mammburu alleged that a woman, who is related to the general manager, was recently employed by the mine without proper procedures being followed.

“They alerted management of the dismal practice, [but] management tried to justify it and threatened them with disciplinary action.”

Workers were reportedly also threatened with dismissal when they took valid sick leave, he said.

“Workers have tried everything legal and lawful to meet with the management, but they have refused. The strike was the last option for them.

“The only thing that’s going to resolve this strike is for the management to meet with the branch leadership.”

Earlier, the mine said it had temporarily suspended operations to ensure the safety of its employees and company property.

“This decision has been taken amidst rising tension at the mine, owing to incidents of intimidation, assault and threats of violence towards non-striking employees and damage to property on 15 January 2015,” spokeswoman Marion Brower said in a statement.

Mammburu denied the claims.

“As NUM we are not aware of any incidents of violence or threat.”

He encouraged the mine to report any such incidents to law enforcement officials.

The NUM was expected to hold a media briefing at 3.30pm at its head office in Johannesburg.

It said more than 5200 of its members went on a strike on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, the Labour Court granted an interim interdict to end the strike.

Brower said a large number of employees signalled a desire to return to work on Thursday in line with the Labour Court ruling.

Disciplinary proceedings, including dismissals, would be implemented for those who did not return to work following the interdict, she said. SAPA

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