Union says Amplats developer to fire 165 workers amid strike

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Johannesburg - More than 500 workers at Anglo American Platinum's [JSE:AMS] (Amplats) mine-development unit at the Twickenham operation in South Africa started a strike against plans to cut as many as 165 jobs at the world’s number one producer of the metal.

Members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) stopped working at the mine in the northern Limpopo province after being served notices of possible dismissals by Capital Development Services, which is developing the operation, the NUM said in an emailed statement on Friday. Capital Development Services employs 524 staff, the union said.

The majority of the affected “employees do not even have retirement and pension funds,” the NUM said. “The company must consider voluntary severance packages as an alternative.”

Amplats is developing the Twickenham mine as it seeks to discard four ageing operations in favour of spending capital on more mechanised facilities.

The margins of the world’s largest platinum producers in South Africa, which has more than 70% of known global reserves, are under pressure as metal prices have declined more than 40% since August 2011.

The affected employees are contractors employed by a third party known as SAN, Mpumi Sithole, a spokesperson for Amplats, said by phone.

“Mine management has facilitated a meeting between SAN and its employees to try and end the impasse and is hopeful for a prompt and peaceful resolution,” Sithole said in an e-mailed statement.

Amplats plans to cut as many as 420 managerial and supervisory positions at its Rustenburg Platinum Mines unit, the company said June 23.

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