“The company has this morning issued an ultimatum to all striking workers… to present to work by no later than 14:00 hours Thursday 18 October 2012 or face immediate dismissal,” company Chief Executive Officer Nick Holland said.
The firm insisted it had issued the warning after exhausting all “reasonable and lawful alternatives” to end the illegal work stoppage.
Gold Fields made the risky gambit as 5,000 workers at one mine complex returned to work.
“We have round about 5,000 people back at work which means we still have around about 1,200 people still who have not reported for duty yet at Beatrix North and South,” he said, adding it was a little early to say if the strike was over at the two mines.
Some 23,500 miners, or more than half of its workers are on strike at its mines in South Africa, but of these 8,500 only joined the strike action last week and are not affected by the ultimatum. The company is, however, seeking a court order to stop the latest job stayaway.
Holland said the strike has cost the company approximately 65,000 ounces of production of the precious metal valued at around 1.2 billion rand ($137 million).
“This has obviously had an adverse effect on the South African operations and could have put at risk the future of certain of our operation where restructuring may become inevitable in future which could increase the risk of job losses,” he said.
Gold mine workers have rejected a deal reached last week between its unions and employers and have vowed to continue with the industrial action.