GOLD Fields has issued an ultimatum to about 15,000 workers engaged in an illegal strike at its Beatrix and Kloof Driefontein Complex West mines to return to their jobs by Thursday afternoon or be dismissed, CEO Nick Holland said on Tuesday.
Workers had started returning to Beatrix, but at KDC West there was no sign of miners back on the job, Mr Holland said.
He said Gold Fields had exhausted all options open to it to resolve the illegal strike that has lasted nearly two months and which could put the future of Gold Fields' South African operations at risk and lead to job losses.
"We are now in the unfortunate position where we have exhausted all reasonable and legal alternatives," Mr Holland said. "We are now left with no option but ... to protect people, assets, and business."
Lost revenue amounted to R1.2bn so far, but taking into account the non-payment of salaries, the net loss to the company was R900m, he said.
The ultimatum does not apply to the 8,500 KDC East mineworkers who went on strike on Sunday. The mine's total workforce is 12,400.
Miners who returned to work by the deadline would be benefit from an agreement reached under the auspices of the Chamber of Mines "notwithstanding that the offer has expired", Mr Holland said on Tuesday.
The chamber, acting on behalf of AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony, had proposed doing away with the lowest wage category to increase the industry's entry-level wage. A new category would be created for locomotive, loader, winch and water-jet operators, to improve their salaries.
Other employees would have their pay adjusted to preserve the integrity of the present job grading framework. A skills allowance for rock-drill operators was also proposed. The pay of all affected employees would be increased by another 2%.
On Monday, workers rejected the offer.
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