Johannesburg, South Africa — 29 October 2012 – AngloGold Ashanti says workers at its West Wits operations in South Africa have returned to work, bringing the curtain down on the worst industrial unrest in the country’s gold sector since apartheid.
Reuters reports that after threats of mass firings and a wage deal agreed between the industry and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the only mine not up and running is one of Gold Fields’ three operations, where sacked workers are appealing their dismissal.
“It appears that the strike is over. Workers have proceeded underground at two of the three mines affected and it appears that the same is happening at the third,” AngloGold spokesman Alan Fine said of the West Wits operations.
Workers at AngloGold’s Vaal River complex, which was also hit by an illegal strike, returned to work last week.
After three weeks of talks, NUM and the gold industry, which employs around 157,000 people, announced an agreement on wage hikes of between 1.5 and 10.8% for different categories of workers.
Resolution of the gold sector strike is likely to bring relief to the African National Congress and President Jacob Zuma, who remains favourite to win re-election as head of the ruling party at an internal election in December.
However, large parts of the platinum sector remain idle, with no end in sight to a six-week strike at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world’s top producer of the metal.
Some 20,500 workers at Amplats’ Union and Amandelbult operations are still holding out for higher wages, and the company has also sacked 12,000 wildcat strikers at its Rustenburg mines northwest of Johannesburg.
In all, 100,000 downed tools across South Africa since August in often violent strikes that triggered ratings downgrades and a slight reduction in this year’s economic growth forecast from finance minister Pravin Gordhan.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.