Top gold mines to cut 3000 workers

ANOTHER black Christmas awaits more than 3000 miners and their families as retrenchments have resurfaced in the mining industry with big gold producers Harmony Gold and DRDGold mulling over lay-offs.

Sowetan has seen a letter that Harmony sent to trade unions about a week ago, inviting them to participate in a "consultative process" as its Envander operations was "considering restructuring that may result in the retrenchment of 2097 employees on operational requirements".

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday Harmony Gold chief executive Graham Briggs disputed claims of any planned retrenchments and said his company was "going through a process of consultation with the unions".

The National Union of Mineworkers, which held a meeting in Johannesburg yesterday, has noted with "serious concern" that the Distressed Sector Task team which was formed under the guidance of the erstwhile department of minerals and energy has not helped to reduce retrenchments.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the union was prepared to participate in the consultative process but said if talks failed, they would consider other moves.

"We will include our legal team in these talks because Section 189 is a legal issue.

"If the outcome does not favour us, we will put pressure in other ways, including mobilising the total workforce," Seshoka said.

Trade union Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans said his union was unhappy about the fact that it had not been officially contacted by Harmony Gold about the matter.