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South African platinum miner fires 12,000

Staff writer |
Anglo American Platinum said it fired 12,000 wildcat strikers on Friday, three weeks since the initial safety suspension and the other actions by employees in the Rustenburg area.

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The Johannesburg-based company tried to get workers back to work but unsuccessfully: attendance levels was less than 20% and currently four of the company’s mining operations in the Rustenburg have insufficient staff to operate and only essential services are being carried out.

The company said that disciplinary hearings for striking Rustenburg mine employees have been completed and affected employees will be informed of the outcome of the hearings today. Those employees will have three working days to appeal the outcome. However, around 12,000 striking employees chose not to make representations, nor attend the hearings, and have therefore been dismissed.

Anglo American Platinum has a new problem. There are new striker at its Union and Amandelbult (Tumela and Dishaba) operations, where workers gave memorandums of demands similar to those received in Rustenburg. Thus, The Union and Amandelbult Mines, including Mortimer Smelter, are not in operation due to insufficient attendance.

All that means that the total lost platinum production has amounted to 39,000 ounces, resulting in approximately R700 million $80 million) of lost revenue.

Chris Griffith, Anglo American Platinum CEO, says: "The Company is committed to participating in the Platinum centralised engagement structures driven by the Chamber of Mines, as well as exploring the possibility of bringing forward wage negotiations within our current agreements. Anglo American Platinum continues to work with the local authorities and other stakeholders to support the restoration of law and order to the affected areas."

The company has a new CEO since July 20, 2012, when Mr. Griffith replaced Neville Francis Nicolau. Mr. Griffith took a brave step now but the number of fired employees will certainly cause political trouble for President Jacob Zuma who faces the largest labor unrest in the country in the last 20 years.


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