A striking miner at the AngloGold Ashanti mine in Carletonville, 84kms northwest of Johannesburg, on October 22, 2012.

Story highlights

Workers at a Gold Fields Limited mine had been on strike since August

Many returned to work this week; those who didn't are fired

The fired workers have 24 hours to appeal

CNN  — 

Operators of a South African gold mine fired 8,100 striking workers after they did not return to work.

Some 15,000 workers at Gold Fields Limited’s KDC East mine near Johannesburg had been participating in an on-again, off-again strike since August.

Many workers returned to work this week, and the company said it fired those who did not return.

Read: SA commission probing miners’ deaths starts

The fired workers were given 24 hours – until Wednesday evening – to appeal the decision, company spokesman Sven Lunsche said.

The line of workers wanting to appeal stretched for a kilometer.

The workers at the Gold Fields mine had gone of strike to seek higher pay, the same as workers at several other South Africa mines.

The firings at Gold Fields Limited mark the latest incident in a wave of sometimes-violent labor unrest that has wracked South Africa’s mining sector – the country’s biggest industry – for nearly two months. Another company, Anglo-American Platinum, fired about 12,000 striking workers who declined to attend disciplinary hearings last week after a three-week walkout.

Four people were wounded during clashes between security officers and striking workers at a Gold One mine in September. And police fired on strikers at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine in August, killing 34 workers and wounding dozens.