(Corrects to make clear 11,000 set to be fired, not 20,000)
* Gold Fields Beatrix mine back up, dismissal ultimatum
* Amplats says to hold off on further dismissals
* AngloGold to decide on ultimatum next week
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 18 Striking miners at one of
Gold Fields' South African operations returned to work
on Thursday, but the bullion producer still looked set to fire
more than 11,000 others taking part in the worst wildcat walkout
since the end of apartheid.
More than 80,000 miners have downed tools in the country
since August in often violent strikes that are hitting growth
and investor confidence in Africa's biggest economy, and raising
questions about President Jacob Zuma's leadership.
Gold Fields, the world's fourth-largest bullion producer and
second-biggest in Africa, said all of the 9,000 workers at its
Beatrix mine were now back at work after responding to a
Eleven thousand strikers at its KDC West operations in
Carletonville, 40 km (25 miles) west of Johannesburg, have until
1200 GMT to return to work or face immediate dismissal. Gold
Fields has said it may issue a similar ultimatum to those
striking at KDC East.
More and more mines in South Africa have resorted to mass
dismissals to tackle the strikes gripping the sector. Around
15,000 workers have been sacked in the last two weeks, although
experts say it is more a hard-ball negotiating tactic than
"It's largely a tactical move," said a labour lawyer, who
asked not to be named as he is involved in talks to resolve the
strikes. "They don't expect to be able to run a mine with a
completely new labour force."
While most of the workers will be rehired when the protests
end, weeks of wildcat strikes have pushed some already
struggling shafts into the red.
Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) said it would not
fire any wildcat strikers at its relatively profitable Union and
Amandelbult mines for now as it sought to engage unions to
resolve the disputes.
The world's No. 1 platinum producer also said it was open to
discussing the fate of the 12,000 miners already dismissed at
its Rustenburg operations, which are known to be struggling.
"While it remains our stated position that we will not
reinstate the 12,000 dismissed Rustenburg employees, we have
agreed with our recognised unions that we are willing to discuss
their status as part of this engagement," it said, without
Attendance at those mines remains below 20 percent.
AngloGold Ashanti, the world's third-largest gold
producer, said it would make a decision next week on whether to
issue an ultimatum to workers.
(Reporting by Sherilee Lakmidas, Agnieszka Flak and Ed Cropley;
Editing by Ed Cropley and Pravin Char)