AMCU President
Joseph Mathunjwa
Johannesburg, South Africa — 11 October 2013 – A strike at Anglo American Platinum Limited (Amplats) has ended after the world’s biggest producer of the precious metal and the largest union at its South African operations reached a compromise over plans to cut jobs.

The company will reopen applications for voluntary severance packages for seven days, AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters in Rustenburg, 130km north-west of Johannesburg. The AMCU estimates that the total number of job cuts will be brought down by 1,336 through reopening the process after previous applications weren’t granted, reports Bloomberg News.

“The way we see it, there will be no forced retrenchments,” Mathunjwa said. “If we had gone to the Labour Court, we wouldn’t have achieved this.” Before speaking to reporters, he addressed about 5,000 striking miners concerning the agreement reached with the company at a sport stadium near Amplats’s operations.

The accord ends a strike that started on September 27 and cost the company 44,000 ounces of platinum output, Amplats said today. The AMCU had challenged Amplats’ decision set out in August to consolidate five mines into three at its Rustenburg complex in a bid to boost profit. The operations are losing more than US$100 million every six months, Amplats CEO Chris Griffith said.

About 1,200 people who would have been dismissed and then hired as contractors to take care of the closed mines will be kept as full-time staff for at least six months, Mathunjwa said.

A further 328 positions that are now occupied by contracts will be reserved for permanent employees, Johannesburg-based Amplats said in an e-mailed statement.

The company first announced the restructuring plans in January, when it estimated it would cut as many as 14,000 jobs. The proposals were scaled back following pressure from unions and the government.

The National Union of Mineworkers, which was unseated by the AMCU as Amplats’s biggest recognized union in March, also sought to halt the reductions. The Labour Court in Johannesburg yesterday dismissed a case brought by the NUM to prevent the cuts, according to the judgment.

Amplats reported a loss excluding one-time items of R1.47 billion for 2012 and kept its dividend suspended. Anglo American plc,  which owns a 77% stake, will close or sell more of the platinum company’s mines if profit doesn’t improve next year, according to CEO Mark Cutifani.

Source: Bloomberg News. For more information, click here.