Johannesburg, South Africa — 15 November 2012 – The last of a wave of illegal strikes that have swept South Africa’s mining sector ended today after workers accepted an offer from Anglo American Platinum Limited “’ the world’s top producer of the precious metal.
Reuters reports that South Africa’s platinum and gold sectors have been rocked for months by often violent wildcat action, spawned by income disparities and a union turf war for members, and more conflict could be sparked by looming job cuts and wage talks next year.
The labour unrest has rattled investors in the continent’s largest economy and has claimed the lives of over 50 people, including 34 shot dead by police in one incident in mid-August near Marikana mine, operated by platinum producer Lonmin plc.
“All the workers are returning to work,” said Evans Ramokga, a strike leader at Amplats “’ a unit of troubled global mining group Anglo American plc “’ which has struggled for two months to get more than 30,000 employees back to work at several of its South African mines.
The company has offered either an additional monthly allowance of US$67.42 or a monthly salary increase of US$45, as well as a one-off US$510.
Amplats has said the strikes would cut annual profit by more than a fifth and that tensions in the sector remain, with 37 workers scheduled to appear in court today after being arrested for violence during protests near a chrome mine run by Xstrata plc.
South Africa’s boardrooms and politicians may breathe a sigh of relief as the worst labour unrest since the end of apartheid in 1994 winds down, but uncertainties still cloud the picture.
The dominant National Union of Mineworkers, which has delivered above-inflation wage hikes but contained militancy, has lost control over much of its rank and file, a source of concern to the ruling African National Congress and corporate bosses alike.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.