How is an employer to respond when workers effectively hold a mine to ransom? In the case of PMG Mining’s Bishop Mine operations near Postmasburg, about 16 truck drivers’ refusal to take a test mandated under the Mine Health & Safety Act could have resulted in the entire mining enterprise being closed down. When all but two steadfastly ignored management’s instruction to comply with the law, they appeared before a disciplinary inquiry and were later dismissed for gross insubordination and failing to obey a "reasonable and lawful instruction". The sacked workers then took their case to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration. When the arbitrator upheld their dismissals, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), acting on behalf of the sacked truck drivers, asked the labour court to review the decision. That judgment was handed down at the end of last year. The "Dover test" — compulsory for all operators of trackless mobile machinery — checks factors such as sound and ...

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