Johannesburg, South Africa — 01 July 2013 – The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has given Glencore Xstrata an ultimatum to rehire more than 1,000 workers fired at its chrome mines in South Africa for wildcat protests, or face unspecified action. The ultimatum expires on Friday.
The protests “’ launched in solidarity with a worker who said he was assaulted by a supervisor in an incident which has taken on racial overtones “’ are part of a wave of labour unrest that has shaken the country’s mining sector, reports Fin24.
‘If management fails to respond to this memorandum within the timeframe prescribed, we reserve our right to pursue any other avenues permissible in terms of the laws,” AMCU said.
This could include further strike action at other Glencore Xstrata operations in South Africa, which include coal mines.
The memorandum was presented to a Glencore executive near the company’s Johannesburg office by the AMCU leader Joseph Mathunjwa.
About 150 of the fired mineworkers, clad in green AMCU shirts, chanted and danced as police looked on. The peaceful demonstration was the AMCU’s first in Johannesburg.
Glencore sacked the workers early in June from mines near Steelpoort, in the Limpopo province. A company spokesman said operations were running at minimal capacity while replacement workers were being rehired.
A spokesman for Glencore said the company would investigate the allegations of racism. Black mineworkers have seen little improvement in their living conditions in the two decades since apartheid ended.
The Amcu has emerged as the dominant union on South Africa’s platinum belt after poaching tens of thousands of workers last year in a vicious turf war with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), a key ally of the ruling ANC.
Wage negotiations due to start next month across the mining industry are expected to be among the toughest ever, as rising working militancy coincides with falling commodity prices and razor-thin company margins.
Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.