Gold mines get reprieve, platinum face strike

By Drum Digital
23 January 2014

While the gold sector has received a temporary reprieve, platinum mines face another trial by fire from today.

Tens of thousands of workers at the world's three top platinum producers were set to down tools Thursday in a pay strike that could have a devastating impact in Africa's largest economy.

Up to 80 000 workers at Impala Platinum, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin mines will embark on an indefinite strike from early Thursday, after their demand to double the minimum monthly wage to R16 000 ($1150) was rejected.

Mine owners fear the strike could spark violence in the restive platinum belt where over 40 people, were killed during a wildcat strike in 2012.

But police have promised to step up security.

The wage dispute has pitted the hard-line Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) against mining firms, in a conflict neither can afford to lose.

After promises of vast wage hikes lured hard-up workers from rival unions, Amcu must prove to members it can deliver.

The strike is aimed at "forcing the employers to the negotiating table", said Amcu secretary general Jeff Mpahlele.

Platinum firms, reeling from previous industrial action and facing growing competition abroad, must prove to boards and shareholders they still have a viable business model.



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