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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 23:57 GMT 00:57 UK
Gold Fields wins mine strike case
South African gold miner
Emotions are running high in the South African mining industry
South African mining giant Gold Fields has won a court order to force 30,000 striking employees back to work.

Johannesburg's Labour Court ruled that the industrial action was "unlawful and unprotected," the company said.

About 50,000 South African miners have walked out in a dispute over pay, including living allowances, and planned redundancies.

The strike started on Wednesday and includes about 21,000 workers from mining rival Harmony Gold.

"This means that all employees participating in the strike at all South African operations are required immediately to discontinue their strike action and return to work," Gold Fields said in a statement.

'We will retreat'

Gold Fields and Harmony Gold account for about half of South Africa's total gold output, and argue that job losses are necessary, while pay increases are not possible.

The firms have said that their profits are being squeezed by the high value of the rand.

Unions and workers argue that conditions need to be improved, and have complained that black workers are paid less than their white counterparts.

Workers want their monthly living allowances raised to 1,200 rand ($190; 100) from the current 706 rand.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said that it expected its members to adhere to the court ruling.

"We will retreat," said NUM spokesman Moferefere Lekorotsoane. "We must comply with the court order."

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