Almost all the 15,000 Gold Fields Ltd. (NYSE, JSE:GFI) miners at risk of being fired for going on an illegal strike reported for duty, but striking workers at the company’s KDC East operations received a final ultimatum from the company Friday.
The gold miner said employees were expected to start returning to work with the night shift on Monday and the morning and afternoon shifts on Tuesday or face dismissal.
The miner, the world's fourth largest producer of the precious yellow metal, added that only 1,500 miners did not return for work on Thursday and so have lost their jobs.
With months of labour unrest crippling the mining sector, which fuels 19% of South Africa's economy, striking workers are coming under increasing pressure from employers, the Government and even unions to return to work.
Workers at several other South African mines, such as the nearly 4,000 platinum employees of giant Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine, have gone back to or remained on strike.
It was the killing of 34 people at the hands of security forces at Marikana in August what prompted the ongoing strikes.
Lonmin (LON:JSE) eventually gave in to a 22% pay increase, prompting workers at world number one platinum producer Amplats, gold giants AngloGold Ashanti and Gold Fields to make similar wage demands.
Globally South Africa is the fourth largest producer of iron ore, holds the same rank for annual gold production, is the number one in platinum output and holds fifth spot for steam coal.
Image of striking workers by SABC News, via You Tube.