Amplats faces job cuts revolt

May 16 2013 12:48

Top global platinum producer Amplats has announced it will cut 6 000 jobs at its South African operations, in a move that risks a new wave of labour unrest. (File, AP)

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Johannesburg - Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] miners will stop work from Thursday evening over proposed job cuts, an Amcu official says, in a move which has sent the company's shares and the rand sharply lower.

"The night shift today is not going underground and also the day shift tomorrow is not going to work," the branch official, who did not want to be identified, said. He could not say how long the stoppage might last.

Amplats, the platinum arm of Anglo American [JSE:AGL] and world's biggest producer of the precious metal, said last week it would cut 6 000 jobs at its Rustenburg mines, a major reduction from an initial plan to slash 14 000 positions that triggered outrage from the government.

Despite the revisions, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), whose sudden emergence last year has roiled South Africa's mining sector, reacted angrily to the announcement and vowed to take action.

Months of violent labour unrest in the mining sector last year, including the police killing of 34 striking miners at Lonmin's Marikana mine, hit growth in Africa's biggest economy and triggered credit rating downgrades.

The prospect of another round of trouble sent the rand down more than 1% against the dollar to R9.352, close to a four-year low of R9.3655 hit in March. Amplats shares fell more than 5% to their lowest since late 2005.

The cabinet was "extremely, extremely concerned" about the labour unrest, environment minister Edna Molewa told reporters at a post-cabinet news conference.

"We are committed to work very hard with the teams in Marikana and throughout the country to bring about stability," she said. "We are confident that we will be able to cap this problem and nip it in the bud."

Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said the company had received no notification of an intent to strike.

More than 50 people have been killed in more than 12 months of mining unrest stemming from a vicious turf war between Amcu and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

NUM, a close ally of the ANC, had enjoyed a near monopoly in the sector but started to bleed members two years ago as a belief took hold that its leaders had become lazy and too close to management.

Workers at Lonmin [JSE:LON], the world's number three platinum producer, ended a two-day wildcat strike on Thursday, sending the company's shares as much as 3% higher. 

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amcu  |  num  |  anglo platinum  |  mining unrest



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