Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fired South African miners vow to fight to the death

JOHANNESBURG — A leader for striking miners at Anglo American Platinum mines in South Africa on Saturday said they would make it difficult for the company to hire new miners after the company fired 12,000 striking workers last week.

Evans Ramokga threatened that Amplats would only hire new employees "over our dead bodies."

"Nobody will come and operate these mines. If there any people we feel must go, it is them, not us," he said, referring to the bosses of Amplats, a subsidiary of the London-listed Anglo Platinum.

The world's top producer of platinum said it fired the workers for failing to attend disciplinary hearings in the aftermath of an unlawful strike that brought its Rustenburg operations to a halt. And Mpumi Sithole, a spokeswoman for Amplats, said Saturday that the decision to fire the workers is final.

More than 20,000 mineworkers at Amplats have been staging a wildcat strike since Sept. 12, demanding about $1,500 in take-home pay. Amplats managers said from the start that the strike is unlawful.

On Friday, hours after renewed confrontations between armed police and striking miners on a hill near Amplats' Rustenburg mines, the company moved to dismiss the workers via text or email messages.

"Despite the company's repeated calls for employees to return to work, we have continued to experience attendance levels of less than 20 (percent)," Amplats said in a statement Friday.

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