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Amplats Workers Plan Strike If Job-Cut Proposals Remain

Some miners at Anglo American Platinum Ltd. plan to strike should the world’s biggest producer of the metal not drop by tomorrow a proposal to cut as many as 6,000 jobs. The shares fell to the lowest since August 2005.

“Workers will declare a strike at that time,” Gaddafi Mdoda, a spokesman for the workers’ committee and a member of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, or AMCU, said by phone today. The start of a potential walkout hasn’t been determined and discussions are ongoing, he said.

Amplats, as the Anglo American Plc unit is known, last week reduced job-cut proposals at its South African operations to 6,000 from as many as 14,000 jobs announced on Jan. 15 to help return to profit. Producers in the nation that has the biggest known reserves of the metal are struggling with higher costs as strikes led to above-inflation wage gains as demand wanes.

The company, where the AMCU is the biggest representative of workers at 41 percent, will take the revised plan to unions, Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith said May 10.

Amplats hasn’t received any demands or a notice to strike, Mpumi Sithole, a spokeswoman, said by phone today. “We encourage workers to address concerns through management,” she said. “We are advising against illegal work stoppages.”

No Support

The National Union of Mineworkers said an Amplats workers’ committee asked it to support a wildcat strike at the company. The committees at the Johannesburg-based producer and other mining companies consist of both union members and staff who aren’t affiliated to labor groups.

“They have asked us to join, but we can’t do something like that,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said in by phone.

Workers in South Africa may strike legally, with their jobs protected, if an independent mediator agrees to a stoppage and after talks between unions and companies fail.

A wildcat strike at Lonmin Plc’s Marikana mine in Rustenburg, 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, ended as workers reported for yesterday’s night shift, the company said today.

Amplats shares declined for a fifth day, losing 4.2 percent to 286 rand in Johannesburg. It is the lowest closing level since August 2005.

Amplats’ plan would reduce output by as many as 350,000 ounces annually, starting with 250,000 ounces this year. The producer had 56,379 employees by the end of December, according to its annual report.

At the company’s Tumela mine in the northernmost Limpopo province, workers are refusing to go above ground, while others are staging a sit-in at surface operations, Johannesburg-based Business Day reported. Production isn’t affected, it said, citing Sithole.

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