Shocked miners plan next Amplats move

May 10 2013 18:11

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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Last Updated: 01/01/0001 at 12:00. Prices are delayed by 15 minutes. Source: McGregor BFA

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Rustenburg - Mine workers at Anglo Platinum (Amplats) [JSE:AMS] reportedly did not expect any retrenchments and are set to hold a mass meeting to plan their next move after the company announced 6 000 job cuts, Reuters reported on Friday.

"Everyone is surprised", Sphamandla Makhanya, a worker committee member at Amplats told Reuters.

"We were not expecting any retrenchment at all. We can't allow this."

"But before we do anything, we are going to have a mass meeting with the workers to decide what to do next," Makhanya said.

Earlier on Friday, Amplats said it would cut 6 000 jobs, pared back from the initial 14 000 that was announced in January.

It added that it would also keep open one of four shafts slated for closure near Rustenburg.

For Amplats, reining in costs and cutting production enough to raise the global price of platinum, which is used for emissions-capping catalytic converters in motor vehicles, is crucial to getting back to profit.

The company said it would now aim to produce 2.2 to 2.4 million ounces a year, up from the 2.1 to 2.3 million ounces targeted in the original plan.

The revisions should deliver R3.8bn ($423m) in savings by 2015.

The company will now have talks with unions and chief executive Chris Griffith said this process was expected to take an additional two to three months.

Hours before the announcement, workers signalled that they will launch protest strikes even if the job cuts fall far short of the initial target.

Activists from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in Rustenburg said they would not tolerate any job losses.

Amcu emerged as the dominant union in the platinum shafts last year after a bloody tussle that saw it poach tens of thousands of members from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

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