As Many as 100,000 Cut Off From Income As Anglo American Fires 12,000 Strikers
Anglo American Platinum fired 12,000 wildcat strikers over labor strife sweeping South Africa, Africa’s largest economy. Since the strikes began in the critical mining sector, nearly 50 people have been killed. President Jacob Zuma’s ruling ANC is struggling to keep control of the region as the worst social unrest since the apartheid continues to grow. The termination noticed, delivered to many SMS, was surprising, despite threats by Amplats that it planned to discipline strikers. In a related move, Atlatsa Resources also fired 2,500 workers who went on wildcat strike this week at its Bokoni platinum mine in South Africa, according to a company official.
On Saturday, several hundred workers held a two-hour rally in the vicinity of a soccer stadium near the platinum city of Rustenburg as police in armored vehicles and a helicopter watched. The rally took place about 70 miles northwest of Johannesburg.
The rally was calmer than the protests of recent weeks.
“It just isn’t fair. The company pays me little and I have worked here for years,” said one fired miner.
Others told local media they planned to struggle for higher wages, even if it came to further violence. Strike leaders remained determined to keep workers off the job, ensuring Amplats’ mines cannot extract ore. ”There will be no operations that will operate. An ordinary worker is prepared to die for his own rights,” one of the strike leaders, Evans Ramokga, told Reuters.
The firings at Amplats on Friday led to a 4 percent fall to three-and-a-half-year lows in South Africa’s rand as investors dumped the country’s assets.
The Bokoni mine, a venture in which Anglo American Platinum has a stake, plans on releasing more details of the firing on Monday. Workers have two days to appeal the firing.
Miners support on average eight to 10 people. According to industry data, most are living well below the poverty line. The firings potentially could cut off income to more than 100,000 people. The striking continues in the wake of up to 22 percent wage increases for wildcat strikers at Lonmin’s platinum mine last month. The strikes have spread to other mines, car factories and municipal governments.