SA mine bosses talk tough with strikers

2012-10-01 19:06

Johannesburg - Top global platinum producer Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] (Amplats) said on Monday it would fire all strikers who did not attend disciplinary hearings the following day as an illegal strike continued at four of its South African mines.

With no end in sight to a spate of wildcat strikes in South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti [JSE:ANG] warned that an illegal stoppage could lead to cuts in its operations there and said it might also have to fire workers.

Amid the tough talk from mining bosses, another illegal strike broke out on Monday at the Bokoni platinum mine run by Amplats and Canadian-based Atlatsa Resources.

The Bokoni strike is worrying because it is in the far eastern limb of the platinum belt, hundreds of kilometres from the wave of labour strife centred around the cities of Rustenburg and Marikana, where 46 people were killed in a bloody six-week stoppage at Lonmin [JSE:LON].

Police said on Monday another body had been found in the Rustenburg area near an Amplats property and they believed the death was related to the mine violence.

Amplats’ four Rustenburg mines have been shut for over two weeks at a cost of over 20 000 ounces in lost output and the company will now sack employees who do not report to disciplinary hearings by Tuesday.

“The company will be left with no alternative but to dismiss, in their absence, all employees who do not present themselves,” it said in a statement.

In total, there are around 75 000 miners on strike across South Africa’s gold and platinum sectors, about 15% of the underground labour force. Virtually all of the strikes are illegal.

The chief executive of AngloGold, the world’s third-largest gold producer, issued a stern warning on Monday about the viability of its South African operations and said the illegal strike by 24 000 of its 35 000 workers could lead to dismissals.

“If the current unprotected strike continues, it compounds risks of a premature downsizing of AngloGold Ashanti’s South African operations,” Mark Cutifani told a briefing that was webcast to employees.

He added the company could take action, potentially including dismissals, against striking employees.

Cutifani also said there were no immediate plans to scale back on R4.5bn in capital investment plans in South Africa this year but the country was becoming a tough sell to investors.

“If we don’t resolve the issue then how do I justify to shareholders that we should continue to invest in South Africa,” he said.

Unclear demands

Cutifani also said the demands being made were unclear.

“It’s mainly about money, but when you ask people what does that look like, they are unable to tell you,” Cutifani told Reuters.

He said it could be R16 000 a month or R18 000 but the demands did not specify if this was across the board or a basic wage or included the whole package. “It’s just a number. We don’t even know what that means.”

AngloGold’s South African operations accounted for 32% of the group’s production in the first half of 2012 and the company said it was losing around 32 000 ounces of production a week due to the strike.

Gold mining in South Africa is generally on the decline as resources mined for decades run out and shafts have to sink deeper to get to the ore, raising costs.

Labour violence first erupted on South Africa’s platinum belt as a turf war between the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the dominant National Union of Mineworkers.

Fuelled by glaring income disparities, the strikes have hit also hit AngloGold’s rival Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] and smaller mining operations.


  • Bra Tebzaah Sibilanga - 2012-10-01 19:21

    Just fire,dont come with empty threats we got diplomas and certificates which would add value to the company.I wouldn't mind a basic of R30000 and I promise not to strike untill I retire lol.

      tshepang.tumagole - 2012-10-03 21:11

      @ Tebza,do u think al your useless diplomas can drill a rock,i guess u know no nothing about mining,so shut up!!!

  • brent.bartlett.98 - 2012-10-01 19:25

    What kind of dogs are these mining bosses? Greedy to the hilt. Pay a man his wages - for the work they do R 12000 per month is not too much. When are these idiots going to learn that they cannot keep widening the gap between rich mining bosses and share holders and the poor that work for them? Shame on you you rich cowards.

      niall.ohagan.142 - 2012-10-01 19:54

      Hi Brent, Catch a wake up call. There are millions out there is Asia who would do the job for far less. Thank ones lucky stars just to have a job !

      crracker.crackerr - 2012-10-01 19:56

      @ brent.bartlett.98 Don't blame the bosses if the workers themselves are the wideners of the gap. Must the mining bosses (and we include the shareholders) tune down their economic activities to cater for the useless economically educated workers and trade unions? The latter by the way investors in mines but out to so-called protect their members against capitalist contamination the acquisition and holding of shares might just cause?

      eugene.meyer1980 - 2012-10-01 20:27

      The problem in this country is that people think they can get far in live without personal investment. Giving in to the the demands (which is bizare) will only promote this idea.

      mxolisi.nala - 2012-10-02 01:01

      Cracker, and other stupid people who make stupid comments, what they must know is, this very same poor people you accusing of farm murders are the one you should be defending if you want to be safe. this will just back fire to you not to the greedy foreign investors who will be siting at their comfort of their castle reading newspapers about you mouning about farmer genocide. i thought you were smarter then this eventually you proved me wrong. Brent is right, irrespective of your stupid comments

  • sj.fourie.56 - 2012-10-01 19:37

    Lmao good one

  • braamc - 2012-10-01 20:03

    Stop talking, fire them

  • - 2012-10-01 20:06

    HEY! Mine bosses, dnt do tht coz is lyk u put paraffin on fire.

  • kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-10-01 20:08

    There are none so deaf as those that don't want to hear. Fire them and let hunger in time be their earbuds. And when foreign investments dries up, maybe our deaf blind Government would also wake up to reality as the world don't owe the ANC and South Africa nothing.

      bongani.nsele.58 - 2012-10-01 21:54

      think of it kobus the investor will leave anyway if there is no fortune to be made (remember the acid water they left behind for the taxpayers to sort), they are here because they are reaping rich rewards, they are not here to do anybody favours...i agree with you the world owes south africa nothing and equally south africa owes the world nothing....maybe they can try to pour their money in new mines in europe....i here it is always good over there......

  • bongani.nsele.58 - 2012-10-01 20:20

    it's easy open a mine, hire a mine manager and his boys and pay them top dollar as long as they deliver the ore to the smart investor...don't give a hoot about the multitudes of general or so called low skilled workers and..... walla you are in business in africa 19th century style...cecil john rhodes business model is still very much alive folks.......

      acm.munro - 2012-10-01 20:38

      I wonder where the money will come from to firsly buy the land/mineral rights, then open the mine, then hire your staff will be a long time before there will be any income!!

  • Brian Dorning - 2012-10-01 20:25

    fire the illegal striking bastards! they are affecting the whole country! give their jobs to willing workers! you have to work your way to wealth, not strike your way to wealth!

  • Bafana Joseph - 2012-10-01 20:36

    mine bosses must get fired from south africa we dont need them here

  • facts.peter - 2012-10-01 21:56

    I always wondered what it really felt like on the Titanic when it went down. South Africans, we are soon to find out. Ensure that you don't have any fixed assets in this country it's almost worth nothing.

  • nerasmus1 - 2012-10-02 06:25

    What these articles don't tell you is the amount of intimidation we are facing in Rustenburg. It's so easy for you to say fire the whole lot. We are talking about tens of thousand workers half of which wasn't even part of the strike. Dismissals was sure to be followed by riots and that's what we've been seeing since last night. Where's the journalists now? Stop quoting press releases and come down here to do some real reporting on what's really happening.

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