Johannesburg, South Africa — 03 October 2013 – Talks are scheduled to resume today to seek an end to a strike that has brought to a standstill most of the operations of Anglo Platinum (Amplats), the world’s biggest miner of the precious metal.       

Workers downed tools last Friday in protest against the company’s plans to cut 4,800 jobs as the Anglo American unit strives to restore profits, reports Fin24. The company has already backed down from an initial target of 14,000 job cuts.

“The strike is continuing. We had marathon meetings with the employer last night and will have another tomorrow and I believe that meeting should get us closer," Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), expressed the belief that today’s meeting should bring the sides closer together.  A company spokesperson confirmed that the talks would resume this morning.

The stoppage has been generally peaceful but police said rubber bullets had been fired to disperse a group of strikers taking part in an illegal march near Amplats’ Tumela mine in northern Limpopo province.

“The crowd had to be dispersed and rubber bullets were fired. You cannot hold a march without permission in advance,” said Limpopo provincial police spokeswoman. She said four of the marchers had been arrested.

Mathunjwa said AMCU wanted Amplats to provide voluntary separation packages for older miners near retirement and to spare the jobs of younger workers, which the union said would bear the brunt of the lay-offs. Much of AMCU’s membership in the platinum belt consists of younger miners.

AMCU emerged as the dominant union in the platinum shafts last year after poaching tens of thousands of members from the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), in a bloody turf war in which dozens were killed, and which resulted in a wave of violent wildcat strikes.

Amplats suffered its first loss last year, partly because of illegal strikes, and the company has warned that the current action could put more jobs at risk.

This AMCU stoppage is legal, in keeping with a change of tactics by the union as it grows and matures.

Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.