Officials at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) have been confronted with a lawsuit and strikes over announced plans to cut 3,300 jobs as unions say the metal’s top producer is back-pedaling on commitments to workers.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), for one, is seeking a legal injunction against Amplats to halt job cuts at the company’s South African mines, according to union reps. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, meanwhile, which represents 54% of employees, gave the Johannesburg-based miner notice it will strike this week.
Platinum companies in South Africa, which boast the world’s No. 1 reserves, are seeking to curb costs after softening demand and strikes led to above-inflation wage gains. Initially, Amplats proposed cutting 14,000 jobs, before lowering the figure to 6,000 and then again last month to 3,300; another 900 jobs at headquarters, added company officials, will also be axed. The dispute was filed at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.
Affected workers were given notice at the beginning of September and will leave by month’s end, added Amplats representatives. Amplats plans to consolidate five mines with nine shaft systems into three operating mines and reduce annual production by 350,000 oz. Output for 2012 was 2.22 million oz.
Between Q2 and Q3, according to CEO Chris Griffith, the Rustenburg-based operations in North West province, have lost more than $102 million every six months.