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Glencore Xstrata South African Chrome Mines Disrupted by Strikes

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May 31 (Bloomberg) -- Glencore Xstrata Plc, the world’s fourth-biggest mining company, said production at three South African chrome sites has been disrupted by wildcat strikes.

The action started May 28 when about 200 workers at the Helena mine in the Bushveld Complex in the northwest downed tools, and spread to the Magareng and Thorncliffe operations, Christopher Tsatsawane, a spokesman for the company, said by phone yesterday. “Strike action is affecting production, but the amount is unknown at this point.”

The Helena strike started after an employee, a member of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, accused a shift supervisor of assault, Tsatsawane said. “This is a solidarity action by AMCU to organize members to strike.”

About 200 workers who haven’t responded to three ultimatums to report for duty have been dismissed and have three days to appeal the decision, Tsatsawane said. He couldn’t confirm the total number of workers involved, he said.

Employees 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. Strikes that haven’t followed this process can be deemed unlawful and lead to workers being fired.

The three mines are operating “on a minimal scale,” Tsatsawane said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Burkhardt in Johannesburg at pburkhardt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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