Two-thousand workers protest Amplats job cuts

Demanding above-inflation wage hikes

One day after Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) (LON:AAL) announced nearly 7,000 job cuts, 2,000 workers gathered at the company’s South African Rustenburg mine in protest and to discuss possible strike action, the Associated Press reports. 

On Monday the world’s largest platinum producer revealed that it would let go of 6,900 workers – 900 more workers than previously stated but nearly 7,000 less than initially believed.

“The workers are not happy with the job losses,” Joseph Mathunjwa, president the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) told the AP. “Job losses should come as a last resort.”

Holding off a potential strike, AMCU will meet with Amplats management on Wednesday.

But Ampalts is no stranger to strikes. Just last month 6,000 workers at two of the company’s mines stopped work in protest. Last year 21,000 did and it cost them their jobs.

The National Union of Mineworkers, NUM, reacted to Monday’s news with shock – Amplats had told labour organizations one week ago that it would only cut 3,000 positions through voluntary severance packages, according to a NUM spokesman who spoke with Reuters.

The slashes come at a sensitive time for South Africa’s mining industry: Around this time last year 34 miners were shot dead during protests at Lonmin’s Marikana mine, also in the North West province.

Monday’s announcement may also be fuelling union rivalries. Mathunjwa speculated to AP reporters that the job cuts may be Amplats’ way of getting back at workers for joining the AMCU – a hard-line group whose membership has been growing steadily since last year.

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