Recent acts of violence against employees attempting to return to work at South Africa’s strike-hit mines have resulted in one confirmed strike-related death of an employee in the platinum belt, at least 20 reported acts of assault over the last two days (11 and 12 May 2014), and a number of serious incidents of intimidation against employees and bus operators providing transport to mining company employees.

AMCU has responded by stating that if the platinum producers “continue engaging workers directly this could lead to something else,” suggesting that violence and intimidation is acceptable. CEOs Chris Griffith, Terence Goodlace and Ben Magara have made an urgent call on AMCU to exercise strong and responsible leadership and to direct and discipline its members.

“We recognise the right to strike as a fundamental right of employees, a right which has been respected throughout the dispute. But, we have a responsibility to communicate directly with our employees. We have heard them. Our employees wish to return to work, but have expressed a fear of continued intimidation and violence. We call on AMCU to recognise and uphold the rights of those who wish to work without fear of intimidation or violence.”

Platinum producers Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin have urged AMCU to issue a public statement requiring their members to respect the rights of those who choose to work and that employees returning to work must not be harmed.

The 16-week strike in South Africa’s platinum sector is the longest and costliest strike to date in the country, affecting both the country’s sluggish economic growth and 40% of global platinum supplies. Amcu is demanding staggered increases that will amount to R12 500 within three or four years, but the platinum companies are offering increases of up to 10% that they say would raise the overall minimum pay package to R12 500 a month by July 2017, including cash allowances such as for housing.

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