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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid