South Africa union fears 'jobs bloodbath' after Lonmin precedent

Given recent events in the platinum sector in South Africa it was definitely a bad choice of words.

Frans Baleni, the general secretary of the country's largest union  told the SA Press Association on Thursday the National Union of Mineworkers  is working hard "to prevent a jobs bloodbath."

Baleni warned that workers at Impala Platinum – who earn the least in the sector – could follow their peers at Anglo Platinum and go on strike.

Anglo's is the world's number one platinum producer and workers there have been on strike for a week demanding R17,000 (roughly $2,000) a month in wages.

That figure would be almost double that which Lonmin agreed to this week after raising salaries by up to 22% for its Marikana workers. Baleni said the wage hikes by the London-listed firm has created certain "expectations in the industry."

Baleni said that roughly 10,000 jobs could be lost in African nation's mining sector on top of the 4,800 redundancies between February and June.

While the Marikana drillers have now returned to work News24 reports government troops have been dispatched to the mining complex a couple of hours outside Johannesburg and will stay there until at least the end of the year.

The military will have a presence there and "other areas of the country where needed" to assist the police as necessary to maintain law and order in these regions.

Platinum was changing hands for $1,625.90 an ounce on Thursday, up 16% since the start of the Marikana troubles, but down from a high of $1,709 reached last week.