Amplats Union Says It May Expand Strike Over Jobs to Gold

The union leading a strike at Anglo American Platinum Ltd. said it may broaden the protest over job cuts to other sites where it dominates the workforce, including South Africa’s biggest gold mines.

“We’ll ask for a secondary strike by our members in different sectors to support the very same cause,” the president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Joseph Mathunjwa, told reporters in Johannesburg today.

Talks have so far failed to resolve the strike that started Sept. 27 at the Johannesburg-based company known as Amplats. The union will continue the stoppage until the world’s largest platinum producer backs down from plans to cut 3,158 jobs, Mathunjwa said.

The AMCU has unseated the National Union of Mineworkers during the past year as the biggest representative of workers at the largest South African platinum miners -- Amplats, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Lonmin Plc. It also speaks for the majority of employees at the biggest mines of Harmony Gold Mining Co., AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Sibanye Gold Ltd., the country’s leading gold producers.

Amplats, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of global production, has said it is losing 3,100 ounces of platinum group metals production a day because of the strike. Less than 20 percent of workers are reporting for duty at the group’s mines near Rustenburg in the North West province since the strike was called more than a week ago, company spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said today by phone.

Using Contractors

AMCU has been meeting Amplats for the past eight days, Mathunjwa said. A major point of dispute with the company is Amplats’s use of outside contractors, instead of giving this work to employees who are losing their jobs, Mathunjwa said.

“There shall be no employee who is terminated while there are volumes of labor hire contractors performing core functions,” Mathunjwa said.

The union is also concerned about 1,248 workers who have been temporarily retained for six months to remove underground equipment from shafts earmarked for closure, Mathunjwa said. These employees should be considered for vacancies at Amplats that arise during the period, Mathunjwa said.

Amplats will continue talks with the AMCU in an effort to resolve the dispute, Sithole said.

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