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Gold Fields reaches deal with NUM to end 45-day strike at South Deep gold mine

Gold Fields Ltd. said Dec. 18 that it has reached an agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers, or NUM, representing workers at its South Deep gold mine in South Africa, to end a 45-day strike at the operation.

Employees have been returning to work since Dec. 13, but the formal settlement agreement was only signed on Dec. 18, after a mass meeting called by the NUM.

Under the deal, Gold Fields will proceed with the planned retrenchment of 1,082 employees, with the miner offering to provide portable skills training in order to aid in the workers' future job searches.

Management of the South Deep operation agreed to deduct the lost earnings over four months and pay all nonmanagement employees who returned to work by Dec. 15 an ex-gratia payment, amounting to 20% of basic pay, in order to ease the financial burden of employees who were on a no work, no pay strike.

In addition, the deal formed a framework for the renegotiation and modernization of the collective and other agreements governing the working relationship between the miner and the NUM, as well as a facilitated relationship-building program between the union branch leadership and the management.

A strike action at the operation was launched by the South Deep branch of the NUM on Nov. 2 to protest a planned retrenchment of workers, stemming from the mine incurring financial losses of around 100 million South African rand per month. Striking workers were said to have used violence and intimidation to block access to the mine.

Production at South Deep is expected to gradually ramp up, with the mine to run production over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

"Detailed mine planning is currently under way and once the full impact of the mine planning exercise and restructuring are complete, we expect to provide guidance for 2019 with our 2018 financial results release in February 2019," Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland said.