Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) employees have ended their strike in South Africa after a compromise with officials at the world’s No. 1 producer of the precious metal over job reductions. Under the deal, Amplats, a subsidiary of U.K.-based Anglo American plc, reopened voluntary severance applications, curtailing more than 1,300 job cuts.
In all, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) President Joseph Mathunjwa said the number of cuts will be reduced by 1,336 at the Rustenburg operations northwest of Johannesburg in the world’s most prolific platinum belt. The walkout, which began September 27, cost Amplats 44,000 oz of platinum output, according to company officials.
Nonetheless, Mathunjwa added, it was the best possible outcome in a politically troubled industry pivotal to sub-Saharan Africa’s No. 1 economy. “If we had gone to the Labor Court, we wouldn’t have achieved this,” he told reporters after addressing a crowd of 5,000 miners; the AMCU is Amplats biggest union.
The AMCU challenged Amplats’ bid to consolidate five mines into three at its Rustenburg complex to boost profit. As of Q3, CEO Chris Griffith said the operations were losing more than $100 million a month; the new plans will still allow Amplats to output cuts by some 350,000 oz annually.
Now under the deal, 1,200 employees, who would have been dismissed and then re-hired to close the mines as contractors, will be kept as full-timers for at least six months, according to Mathunjwa. Another 328 positions now occupied by contractors will, in turn, be reserved for permanent employees, Amplats said in an e-mailed statement, Reuters reported.
The Johannesburg-based Amplats first announced the restructuring in Q1, when it estimated it would cut as many as 14,000 jobs. But the proposals were scaled back following objections from unions and a government that has been under extreme political pressure to advocate for worker demands. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), ousted by the AMCU as Amplats’ biggest recognized union in Q1, also opposed the reductions.