South African miner Gold Fields has sacked over 8000 of striking workers after they refused to return to work at the KDC East mine near the city of Johannesburg, a spokesman says.
“All 8,500 people who were on strike did not come back. They did not return to work, so we have issued dismissal letters to all of them,” spokesman Sven Lunsche announced on Tuesday.
“We have now reached a stage where we can’t hold off anymore. Our hands were forced and we have now done it.”
Lunsche further stated that the workers have 24 hours to appeal their dismissal.
Workers at the last striking mine of the world’s fourth gold producer in Carletonville, southwest of Johannesburg, ignored a final deadline set for 4:00 pm (14:00 GMT).
Tens of thousands working in South African mines –mostly located near the commercial hub of Johannesburg– have been on strike for more than a month.
The strikes have paralyzed production in the country, which accounts for around seven percent of global mine products.
In August, clashes between striking miners and police left 46 miners dead at Lonmin platinum mine in the South African North West Province.
The strikes have damaged South Africa’s reputation as an investment destination.
South Africa possesses nearly 80 percent of the world’s known platinum reserves. The country’s mining sector directly employs around 500,000 people and accounts for nearly one-fifth of the country’s gross domestic product.