Officials at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) confirmed they will cut 4,800 jobs in South Africa through restructuring plans, laying off 3,300 and redeploying the remainder; affected company employees will be notified in the coming weeks.
Representatives of Amplats, a 79.8%-owned subsidiary of Anglo American plc, said 1,600 employees would fill currently vacant positions, while another 1,500 volunteered to accept severance packages and early retirements; another 500 employees, the company added, had taken “other opportunities.”
Amplats said earlier this month that it would target nearly 7,000 positions within the company to enhance profitability. “The success of these measures has reduced the number of employees that will be retrenched to 3,300,” as a one-month notice begins September 2, Amplats said.
Originally, Amplats sought to cut 14,000 jobs, but scaled back that number in wake of strong opposition by unions and the government of South Africa, the continent’s biggest mining country. “This is about the best outcome so the company can do what is necessary to make itself profitable,” said Amplats CEO Chris Griffith.
The measure itself, he added, will protect other jobs within the company. “Returning the company to profitability will protect more than 40,000 jobs,” Griffith told reporters during a conference call, according to Reuters. “If this company runs into the ground, there will be 40,000 people who lose their jobs, not 3,000.”
But workers were still unhappy with the outcome. “We have said no single person should be forced to go home, it should all be voluntary packages or natural attrition. We are very disappointed,” National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told Reuters.
Within the plan, Amplats officials added that they will integrate some of their Rustenburg area operations while divesting its Union South and North mines to reduce production by 350,000 oz per year to between up to 2.4 million oz annually.
President Jacob Zuma and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) have sought to keep job losses to a minimum before next year’s elections and want to contain unrest, which also triggered credit downgrades last year. The country’s mines employ about 500,000 workers, a third fewer than before the end of Apartheid rule two decades ago.