'Northam miners will fight until the bitter end'

The NUM has defied a Labour Court order and declared its strike at Zondereinde mine unprotected.

FILE: Northam Platinum's Zondereinde Mine. Picture: Northam Platinum.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has defied a Labour Court order declaring its strike at Northam Platinum's Zondereinde mine unprotected.

It says its members will stay away from the mine's operations until the company's chief executive Paul Dunne is sacked.

The industrial action among some 3,500 workers started before the night shift on Tuesday.

Northam says there are just over 2,000 workers still on strike and has warned them to return to their posts by tomorrow or face disciplinary action.

But the union 5,200 workers have signed a petition to have Dunne removed due to unfair dismissals.

NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu says he's not aware of any workers having abandoned the wildcat strike and says the fight is far from over.

"Our members decided that they will continue with the strike because management doesn't respect policies, they just alter them whenever they like. They will fight to the bitter end."

More than 7,000 NUM members went on an 11-week wage strike that ended in January last year at the mid-tier platinum producer.

The wider platinum industry is still recovering from a sometimes violent five-month strike last year by the NUM's arch rival the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which hit Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin, the world's top producers.