Amplats operations shut as workers stay away

All of Anglo American Platinum's operations were shut today as workers stayed away after violence at the mine the previous day, a spokesperson for the company said.

At least 13 workers were wounded by rubber bullets or machetes in fighting at Amplats' Siphumelele mine following clashes between rival unions.

Meanwhile, workers were meeting at the Bleskop stadium near Rustenburg today.

One of the workers, Stephen Ngwai, said they wanted those who were at Siphumelele shaft to brief them about the incident yesterday.

“They will brief us and later we will decide on a way forward,” he said.

Workers’ leader Gaddafi Mdoda earlier said workers from all shafts did not report for work today. Instead, they met at the Bleskop stadium.

“We want to do away with Anglo management. Details will be disclosed at the meeting,” he said.

North West police said a mine worker was in a critical condition in Johannesburg following clashes at the mine.

“There is one very critical person at the moment,” Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said.

He denied reports that a mine worker was killed in the clash between security guards and workers yesterday, in which several people were injured.

The critically injured person was taken to the Milpark hospital, in Johannesburg, with head injuries.

“The person was hit by a blunt object,” he said.

Ngubane said 13 people were injured at the Siphumelele shaft.

“Some of the people were hacked with pangas and sharp objects, while others were shot with security rubber bullets,” Ngubane said in a statement.

“A group of about 1 000 strong ... attacked four people who were at the union offices. Mine security intervened and fired rubber bullets, and in the process a total of 13 mine workers, including four security guards, (were injured).”

Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said the workers’ committee members were contesting the legitimacy of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at the mine and had demanded that NUM vacate its offices.

“The company is currently in the process of validating union membership at Rustenburg and the mines north of the Pilanesburg,” she said in a statement yesterday.

NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said there had been no union membership verification, and that the NUM still held its status as the dominant union.

In August, Amplats fired 12 000 strikers from its operation in Rustenburg. The workers were later re-employed.

Last year, the North West town was the scene of violent mining protests in which scores of people died.

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