The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has signed a deal with bullion producer Sibanye Gold to soften job cuts at the company’s Cooke 4 mine.

A spokesperson for NUM on Wednesday said provisions will be made in the deal that would include voluntary severance packages.

Avoidance measures

“We signed an ‘avoidance measures agreement’ with Sibanye so there will be no layoffs at Cooke 4,” spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburuu told Reuters.

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 retrench staff.

Voluntary packages

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

Job cuts are a thorny issue in SA, where labour relations are raw, the unemployment rate is at about 25% and income disparities rooted in the apartheid era remain glaring.

AngloGold Ashanti said on Tuesday it planned 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 4-1/2 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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