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Lonmin job cuts may ignite more unrest

Nov 01 2012 08:59 Reuters

Company Data

Lonmin plc [JSE:LON]

Last traded 41.60
Change -0.91
% Change -0.02
Cumulative volume 741672
Market cap 23.65bn

Last Updated: 31/07/2014 at 04:27. Prices are delayed by 15 minutes. Source: McGregor BFA

Anglo American Plat Ltd [JSE:AMS]

Last traded 472.00
Change -10
% Change -0.02
Cumulative volume 141801
Market cap 127.29bn

Last Updated: 31/07/2014 at 04:27. Prices are delayed by 15 minutes. Source: McGregor BFA

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Johannesburg - Lonmin [JSE:LON] management and workers appeared on Wednesday to be shaping up for a new battle after the strike-hit mining company said jobs would be cut.

The world's third-largest platinum producer is scrambling to get back on its feet after a violent six-week strike at its Marikana mine that crippled production and led it to ask shareholders for $800m in a rights issue on Tuesday.

It also gave unions notice of a restructuring, with proposed job losses in its 25 000-strong work force expected to be implemented in early 2013.

"We haven't decided how many employees will be impacted. What we have said is we are freezing our production target at 750 000 ounces for the next two years," Lonmin spokesperson Sue Vey said.

"What we are doing is shaping the business accordingly."

The company had said earlier the strike would cause it to miss targets. With production almost halving in the three months to September 30, it has postponed its aim of increasing output to more than 900 000 oz a year.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it would fight any job cuts.

"Of course, we are in principle opposed to retrenchments. We will discourage them from going on a restructuring process that would see any jobs being lost," NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said.

The union hoped to meet management next week, he said.

The timing of the move is delicate as a wildcat strike is still gripping the nearby Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] mines at Rustenburg - where police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at strikers on Tuesday - and Lonmin workers only having been back at work for a month since their strike.

Emotions are also still high after the police killing of 34 striking Lonmin miners at Marikana on August 16, the bloodiest security incident since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

Tens of thousands of gold miners have also only returned to work in the last two weeks and layoffs at Lonmin could trigger sympathy strikes.

Gideon du Plessis of Solidarity trade union said he was not surprised by the Lonmin notice, but feared middle management rather than the roc-drillers who led the strikes would bear the brunt of cuts.

"The focus will be on management levels but that means they are punishing those who did not participate in the strikes," Du Plessis said.

"These innocent people are now casualties."


lonmin  |  mining unrest  |  retrenchments
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