Seeking to avoid a repeat of 2012’s violence, police fanned out across South Africa’s platinum belt as 70,000 miners walked off the job at Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (Amplats), Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (Implats) and Lonmin Plc. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) said the walkout is contingent on a 50% monthly salary increase for their lowest-paid, entry-level miners to $1,150/month in the area northeast of Johannesburg.
Fewer AMCU members, however, are striking than was initially planned. In particular, a labor court judge ruled the union could not begin a simultaneous strike by 20,000 South African gold miners pending a January 30 decision on its legality. Amplats shuttered operations where the AMCU is the majority union, a spokeswoman told Bloomberg.
Implats, meanwhile, closed operations and to prevent non-striking employees from arriving or leaving during darkness, according to a company official. “We don’t want to create an impression the company is trying to break the strike by continuing as normal,” he told the news agency.
Platinum companies lost a combined 879,400 oz of production in 2012 and 2013 strikes while workers gave up $108 million in wages, CEOs of the three producers said in a joint statement this week. In 2012, 44 striking miners were killed at Marikana in the biggest police massacre in the post-Apartheid era.