End in sight for platinum strike in Amplats deal

City A.M. Reporter
STRIKING workers have reached a deal with platinum giant Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) over the weekend to reinstate 12,000 miners sacked for an illegal strike, which could end the last major industrial action rocking South Africa’s mining sector.

Months of often violent wildcat strikes have cut production in the platinum and gold sectors, raising concerns about slowing economic growth as well as awkward questions about President Jacob Zuma’s management of the most damaging labour strife since the end of apartheid in 1994.

“They agreed to reinstate all the dismissed workers on the provision that they return to work by Tuesday,” Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for the powerful National Union of Mineworkers, said at the weekend.

Amplats said in a separate statement it had reached the deal with the unions and offered sweeteners such as a one-off hardship payment of 2,000 rand (£144) to facilitate the return. The strike has lasted about six weeks and crippled production.

The deal at Amplats comes as Cynthia Carroll, the chief executive of parent Anglo American, announced her resignation on Friday, after coming under pressure from investors over the firm’s lagging share price and continued dependence on strike-hit South Africa.

Anglo owns 77 per cent of Anglo American Platinum. Although responsible for 24 per cent of its parent’s 2011 revenue, Amplats brought in just eight per cent of total operating profit because of soaring costs.