The African National Congress is starting its “dispute resolution process” in a bid to address the a.
STRIKING workers at Xtrata mine in Steelpoort near Burgersfort in Limpopo have rejected management's appeal to return to work.
The strike enters its seventh week and workers have vowed to continue with it.
Last week management wrote a letter urging the almost 400 workers to return to work though the strike has not ended.
The workers, most of whom are NUM members, went on strike after being locked out of the mine premises on June 22.
They are demanding, among other things, production bonuses allegedly owed them and better working conditions.
But management allegedly refused to budge and instead locked all workers out of the mine's gates.
NUM shop steward Freddy Siphorogo confirmed yesterday that on Wednesday they were given a letter asking workers to return to work.
"But we are not prepared to go back to work unless our demands have been met," he said.
Xtrata spokesperson Songezo Zibi said only 17 employees had reported for work by yesterday.
He said a meeting between management and workers had been set up to see if they could reach a compromise.
"The union was initially given the right to strike. But upon review it was found that the award was incorrectfuly handled," said Zibi.
He said the matter has been referred to the commission for conciliation, mediation and arbitration to rule on the legality of the strike.
The matter would be heard sometime next week, he said.
"We do not want a situation where we have to decide whether to do away with the workers," Zibi said.
He said the workers had already lost 19 pay days and the company had lost production of over 10000 tons.
Zibi would not be drawn into revealing the production losses in rand terms.
"Anyone willing to come back to work is free to do so," he said.
Siphorogo said it didn't matter whether the workers had lost pay as they wanted their rights to be respected.