Fin24

Platinum workers ignore strike

2012-03-07 14:15

Johannesburg - The world’s two largest platinum producers said on Wednesday they were not affected by a one-day nationwide strike that has brought South Africa’s gold mines to a halt and also hit the coal sector.

Tens of thousands joined a one-day national strike on Wednesday as the country’s biggest labour group Cosatu protested about new road tolls and short-term contract labour agencies that it says exploit workers and perpetuate inequalities.

Bullion producers Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] and Harmony Gold Mining Company [JSE:HAR] both reported that their staff who belong to the Cosatu-affilated National Union of Mineworkers (Num) had downed tools for the day.

But Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] and Impala Platinum Holdings [JSE:IMP], the world’s No 1 and 2 producers respectively, said they were unaffected.

“We have not been impacted at all,” Implats executive Johan Theron, who heads human resources, told Reuters.

Implats is just recovering from a six-week illegal strike at its Rustenburg mine, the world’s biggest platinum operation, and any stoppage would have set back the ramp-up of output there.

“There was no strong support for the call to strike,” said Theron, who said one of the reasons Implats workers had shrugged off the call was “potential Num and Cosatu hostility”.

The illegal stayaway at Rustenburg cost the company 120 000 ounces in lost output and a loss of income of R2.4bn.

Amplats said the number of its workers who joined the strike was not enough to “affect operations significantly”.

“Our operations are in production,” said Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole.

The strike includes workers from other sectors of the economy. Its immediate targets are new road tolls around Johannesburg and short-term contract labour agencies.