Amplats makes miners offer to return to work

MINER Anglo American Platinum yesterday offered an olive branch to striking miners, offering for them to return to work no later than 7am this morning to end a six week strike that has crippled production.

The world’s largest platinum miner, which has been in discussions with the recognised South African unions, yesterday reached an agreement for employees to return to work. No wage details were discussed, it said.

Amplats said yesterday that it will offer a one-off “hardship allowance” of ZAR2,000 (£144) to compensate miners who are in financial difficulty due to the strike, but it will only be paid if they report for duty this morning. The workers who didn’t strike will also receive ZAR2,000.

The offer includes reinstating the 12,000 dismissed workers, who were fired last month after failing to turn up to a disciplinary hearing.

The employees who heed the ultimatum will return to work on the same terms as existed before the strike, but will receive a final written disciplinary warning.

Workers who do not report for work this morning will either remain dismissed, or be ineligible for the ZAR2,000 payment.

Chris Griffith, chief executive of Amplats, said yesterday he was “calling for calm” in the strike-affected areas.

“Our commitment to the platinum centralised engagement structures, driven by the Chamber of Mines, has not changed and, as we have mentioned, we are considering the possibility of bringing forward wage negotiations that are within our current arrangements,” he said.

The six-week strike, which has cost Amplats around 3,800 ounces of platinum each day and around ZAR1bn in revenue, spread to the miner’s Rustenberg operations in mid-September, before quickly spreading to its Kumba Iron Ore unit.

At the start of October, industrial action began at the Sishen mine, which has led to the miner losing around 2.2m tonnes of iron ore.

The agreement comes just days after Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll announced she would step down from her role.

Anglo American shares closed down 0.85 per cent yesterday at 1,917p.