News / Africa

    South African Platinum Producer Fires 12,000 Workers

    Anita Powell
    The world’s biggest platinum producer has fired 12,000 workers in South Africa after they engaged in an illegal strike, company officials said Friday.  The nation’s main mineworkers' union said it disapproves of the move and will try to negotiate with Anglo American Platinum.  

    Anglo American Platinum said in a statement that it dismissed the workers after they held a wildcat strike for three weeks at its platinum mine in Rustenberg.

    A mineworker addresses his colleagues before taking part in a march outside the Anglo American mine in South Africa's North West Province, September 12, 2012.A mineworker addresses his colleagues before taking part in a march outside the Anglo American mine in South Africa's North West Province, September 12, 2012.
    x
    A mineworker addresses his colleagues before taking part in a march outside the Anglo American mine in South Africa's North West Province, September 12, 2012.
    A mineworker addresses his colleagues before taking part in a march outside the Anglo American mine in South Africa's North West Province, September 12, 2012.
    Workers at that mine, some 100 kilometers from Johannesburg, went on strike for higher pay last month, a few weeks after workers at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana started a separate illegal strike.  In the end, the Lonmin workers got a substantial pay raise, though the six weeks of violent strikes led to the deaths of at least 44 people.

    Anglo American said the Rustenberg strike has led to a loss of 39,000 ounces of platinum, or about $80 million (700 million rand) of lost revenue.  

    Several other mining companies have been affected by the stoppage.

    Anglo American also said it was experiencing what it termed “strike contagion,” with workers at its other operations making similar demands of management.

    Company spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said the company urges workers to go through legal channels - such as their unions or the company - to make their demands.  

    “We would like our workers to know that this is illegal industrial action and we’ve got engagement structures that are operational, that are working, that have been working for years, that should they have any problems that they would like to bring to management’s attention, that they use those channels,” said Sithole.

    National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said his union represents most of the workers at Anglo American Platinum.

    He said the union can’t have the workers reinstated because it was an illegal strike, but that the union will try to find a compromise.

    “We believe that two wrongs do not make a right.  Yes, those platinum workers were wrong for embarking on an illegal strike," said Seshoka. "Their demands were denied, so we need to find a way of resolving the crisis rather than dismissing all of them.  It does not help, if you want to extinguish fire, to pour petrol on it.”

    There is fear that the mass firings could spark further violence.  News reports had said that one miner at Anglo American was killed Thursday in violence in Rustenberg.  Meanwhile, a high-level commission recently started its inquiry into the dozens of deaths at the Lonmin mine in Marikana.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora