Labour leader calls S.A. workers to 'bring mining companies to their knees'
Mametlwe Sebei, one of the main leaders of South Africa's striking platinum miners, called workers to go on a national strike that he said would "bring mining companies to their knees.”
The cry came as hundreds of miners, who have been on strike for weeks to push for higher pay, gathered at a soccer stadium near Rustenburg, in the heart of the country’s platinum belt.
Sebei, reports Mail and Guardian, said the general strike will start this Sunday in Rustenburg and from there the workers would march to the seat of government in Pretoria.
The actions will be focused in the same the area where London-listed Lonmin (LON:JSE) has its Marikana mine, where 45 people have died since a wildcat strike started last month.
On Wednesday, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) become the second major producer forced to halt operation as labour unrest spread in South Africa's largest industry.
The labour strife at Amplats — which produces around 40 percent of global platinum output — saw 15,000 Gold Fields workers downing tools on Sunday near Johannesburg. The company, however, has denied its employees are on strike, saying that it suspended production after workers were intimidated with the threat of violence.
"The company knows that we are Anglo Americans. Because now they're starting to send a message to us that we must come back. How are you going to send a message to someone that's not working" for the company,” told AFP Siphamandla Makhanya, a worker representative and Amplats winch operator.
South Africa generates nearly $10 billion a year from the mining of platinum group metals (PGMs – platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium) for their value as an investment and as industrial materials.
It has almost 80% of the world’s known PGM reserves (over 2 billion ounces) and produces over 4.5m oz of platinum a year (75% of the global supply) and about 4m oz a year of the other PGMs.
Platinum price has gained nearly 20% since the police shootings at Lonmin's Marikana mine.
The mining industry accounts for 6% of the nations’ gross domestic product, but the sector is becoming a symbol of the economic, social and political differences that continue to characterize the country.