Oct 5, 2012 by GExclusiveNews
The world’s biggest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, has fired 12,000 striking South African miners following a protracted dispute over wages.
Amplats said three weeks of illegal strikes by 28,000 workers in Rustenburg had cost it 39,000 ounces in output – or 700m rand ($82.3m; £51m) in revenue.
South African mining has been hit by a wave of wildcat strikes, in which miners and officials have been killed.
ANCHOR CHRISTIAN BRYANT
A new chapter in the saga of South Africa’s striking mine workers as the mining companies took a drastic step.
“Anglo-American, the world’s largest producer of platinum, fired 12,000 striking workers today. Mine strikes in the so-called platinum belt have been going on for two months.”
The company says the 12,000 didn’t show up to disciplinary hearings, and so forfeited their jobs. The workers are part of an illegal strike, which includes up to 15 percent of the industry’s workforce. Financial Times reports:
“Although the total number of miners participating in strikes is not clear, more than 100,000 workers throughout the industry are now caught up in the industrial action, as South Africa’s image as an investment destination is being hammered.”
A writer for the BBC says the effects of the mass firing will likely reach beyond the mining industry.
“South Africa has a high unemployment rate (approximately 25%) and these dismissals will deal a big blow to the country’s slow economic growth. … The dismissals will also shock potential international investors in Africa’s largest economy.”
Strike leaders say the workers are disillusioned, and feel neither the company nor the unions have their interests at heart. Channel 4 reports relations between workers and police are also strained.
“A protester died overnight in a separate mine in Rustenburg, the scene of a massacre two months ago. Striking miners say he was killed by a rubber bullet shot by police dispersing a protest.”
But while nearly 50 miners have been killed during protests, Al Jazeera reports a recent agreement with a different mining company has given the Anglo-American miners a reason to continue.
“The fact that workers at Lonmin who went on an illegal strike were eventually rewarded with a pay rise of up to 22 percent has sent the message that striking outside the country’s labor laws can be rewarding.”
Another gold mining company, GoldFields, evicted 5000 striking workers from their dormitories this week, saying they were intimidating other workers.