Johannesburg - Miners went on a wildcat strike at the Kumba
Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] Sishen mine on Wednesday, a fresh sign of escalating labour
unrest in Africa’s largest economy.
As many as 75 000 miners, or 15% of the South African mining
sector’s total workforce, are already out on strikes that have hit platinum and
gold mining firms and further threatened the country’s shaky growth prospects.
The recent weeks of labour strife, in which more than 45
people have been killed, have stirred up criticism of the ANC and President Jacob
Zuma, who faces a challenge from ANC rivals ahead of a party leadership
conference in December.
“Our members at Sishen say the guys went on strike from 2
a.m. this morning and our understanding is that senior executives flew down
there early this morning,” said Gideon du Plessis, deputy general secretary of
the trade union Solidarity.
Solidarity was not participating in the strike. A Kumba
spokesperson declined to comment but said the company would issue a statement
Kumba, a unit of global miner Anglo American [JSE:AGL], is
one of the world’s top 10 producers of iron ore, which is used in the
production of steel. The company produced 41.3 million tonnes of ore in 2011.
The industrial action in the iron ore mining sector comes
amid a worsening security situation in South Africa’s strike-hit platinum belt
and a national truckers’ strike that has started to squeeze fuel suppliers in
Kumba shares fell 2.08% to R491.29 at 08:43 GMT, compared with a 0.13% fall in the JSE Top 40 - (Tradeable) [JSE:J200] blue-chip index.
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