Miner Gold Fields said the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) has called off a proposed strike across all the company’s operations in South Africa.

The NUM threatened to walk out on 7 March over the company’s implementation of a functional work capacity testing system which tests the physical ability of employees to work safely in an underground mine.

The NUM said the company has unfairly used the system to retrench workers and wants it removed.

Mine health and safety legislation in South Africa requires employers to implement a testing system together with an associated code of practice.

The legislation ensures that all individuals working on a mining operation meet the basic standards of fitness required to work safely in an underground situation, and is central to maintaining a safe working environment.

The company and NUM have agreed to on a process during which issues related to the system will be negotiated.

Gold Fields executive vice-president and head of South African operations Vishnu Pillay said that the company will talk with the union to find a suitable testing system that is compliant with mine health and safety legislation.