World’s largest platinum producer fires 12,000 workers in South Africa

Amplat fires 12 thousand South African workers protesting for a pay rise

The world’s largest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, Amplats, on Friday fired 12 thousand South African workers taking part in a three-week strike.

Amplats said the miners had failed to attend disciplinary hearings and were therefore dismissed.

Attendance levels of less than 20 per cent meant four of the company’s mining operations in Rustenburg could not operate properly, the BBC reports.

Employees would learn the outcome of disciplinary hearings later on Friday, and would have three days to appeal over their outcome, the company reportedly said.

“Approximately 12,000 striking employees chose not to make representations, nor attend the hearings, and have therefore been dismissed in their absence,” it added.

Two months of unrest over pay has spread through several South African mines, upsetting the South African economy and causing political problems for President Jacob Zuma and his ruling African National Congress, ANC.

The protest turned deadly a month ago when clashes between police and protesters left more than 34 people dead at the Marikana mines.

Mr. Zuma has been criticized for the manner he handled the crisis.

In a speech to business leaders on Thursday, Mr. Zuma urged the country to re-enact its known capacity to “overcome difficulties when we work together,” news agency, Reuters, reported.

“We should not seek to portray ourselves as a nation that is perpetually fighting,” Mr. Zuma was quoted as saying.

On Friday, protesters in a shanty town near the Amplats mine barricaded streets with rocks and burning tyres, watched by a contingent of riot police backed by armoured vehicles, Reuters said.

Earlier in the week, strikers torched an Amplats training centre and two conveyor belts, making it harder to restart operations when it does manage to resolve the standoff.

Amplats’ chief executive, Chris Griffith, said the company is still committed to participating in centralized engagement structures driven by the chamber of mines, “as well as exploring the possibility of bringing forward wage negotiations within our current agreements.”





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