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NUM signs deal to soften job cuts

The NUM has signed a deal with Sibanye Gold to soften job cuts at the company’s Cooke 4 mine.

FILE: The NUM has signed a deal with Sibanye Gold to soften job cuts at the company’s Cooke 4 mine. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers has signed a deal with bullion producer Sibanye Gold to soften job cuts at the company's Cooke 4 mine, a NUM spokesman said, with provisions that include voluntary severance packages.

"We signed an 'avoidance measures agreement' with Sibanye so there will be no layoffs at Cooke 4," spokesman Livhuwani Mammburuu told Reuters.

Sibanye officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The company had said in September it was starting talks with unions about possible job cuts at Cooke 4, which employs around 2,500 people, to lift profits and output.

NUM said at the time that its members might down their tools if Sibanye tried to lay off staff.

Mammburuu said some of the workers at the mine now would be offered voluntary severance packages while others would be transferred to other operations.

Job cuts are a thorny issue in South Africa, where labour relations are raw, the jobless rate is around 25 percent and income disparities rooted in the apartheid era remain glaring.

AngloGold Ashanti said on Tuesday it plans to cut South African staff through voluntary severance packages as it and other bullion producers feel the pinch of lower gold prices and rising costs.

Gold's spot price hit a 4.5 year low of $1,131.85 last week and remains pinned below $1,200, which is seen by many analysts as a level below which many shafts are unprofitable.

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