The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has urged mineworkers to halt violent underground protests and hostage situations. Gold One has faced disruptions since October, with workers refusing to return to the surface to protest the company’s refusal to acknowledge the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) as a legitimate labor union.

The situation escalated in December when the protests turned violent, leading to a hostage situation that not only jeopardized the safety of participating employees but also affected those affiliated with other labor unions. Reports indicated that workers who opposed participation in the violent protests were threatened and assaulted, resulting in Gold One dismissing employees involved in the attacks.

Ziyaad Hassam, the head of legal at Gold One, emphasized that the dismissals would only be reconsidered through legal channels such as internal appeals or the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA). He stated, “The dismissals will not be overturned unless it’s in a legal way.”

The company reported significant production losses, estimating losses between R12 million to R15 million, due to the disruptions caused by the protests. Hassam noted that the company had engaged with NUM to address the issues and had conducted a mass meeting with affected employees.

NUM regional organizer Victor Ngwane acknowledged the engagements with the company and expressed dissatisfaction with the dismissals. He revealed that NUM had successfully argued for its members’ compensation during the sit-ins and hostage situations but emphasized the importance of resolving issues through legal channels.

During a recent mass meeting, NUM explained the proper legal channels for addressing employee grievances, including the recognition of Amcu and the dismissal of employees. Ngwane stated that NUM was hopeful that the majority of dismissed employees would be reinstated, emphasizing that the union respected legal processes.

Hassam reiterated Gold One’s commitment to open communication with workers’ unions and stressed the company’s intolerance for violent protest actions that jeopardize the well-being of employees and threaten workplace stability. He stated, “We have always had an open door to communication with workers’ unions through which any employee issues are raised.”