Mine employees heeding call to return to work turned away at roadblocks

Employees heeding the call to return to work were turned away by police at roadblocks on Tuesday, said Implats.
Employees heeding the call to return to work were turned away by police at roadblocks on Tuesday, said Implats.
Image: Gallo Images/ iStockphoto

The request by Implala Platinum (Implats) for some employees to return to work on Tuesday was disrupted by roadblocks preventing workers reaching the mine.

The company issued a notice to employees on Sunday to return to work during the lockdown, saying it had been granted an exemption by the department of mineral resources & energy.

But "many" workers could not get to work after being turned back at roadblocks, Implats spokesperson Johan Theron said on Tuesday.

The company said it had carried the costs for employees in remote areas to return to work. Only those staying close to the mine were asked to make their own arrangements to get to work.

"We have only recalled some employees over and above essential services people already at work," said Theron. "Regrettably, many of our employees, including essential services people, have not been able to report to work today [Tuesday] as they were stopped by the police who blocked off the mine with extensive roadblocks."

Theron could not say how many staff were requested to return to work, where they were travelling from or if they were returning from outside SA's borders.

In a notice sent to employees on Sunday the company said: "Permission was granted from the department of mineral resources & energy to ramp up operations.

"As such employees are required to travel from their homes to Impala Rustenburg to report for duty from Tuesday, April 14 2020.

"This requires that employees may travel between provinces towards the North West province, where Impala Rustenburg is situated. All travelling Impala Rustenburg employees will carry their Impala clock card to identify themselves as employees."

The company said it had taken the necessary precautions to protect returning staff from contracting the coronavirus.

Theron emphasised that the request did not involve all employees or mean production would resume immediately as the company was focused on the safety of workers more than profit.

He said the mine was aiming for a safe and orderly return to work for all once the lockdown was lifted.

"All employees have been in isolation at their homes and will go through intensive health screening on return and every day thereafter," Theron said.

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