S.African platinum bosses warn of strike costs - CNBC Africa

S.African platinum bosses warn of strike costs

Mining

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Striking miners have caused damage through violence, damage to property, and intimidation. PHOTO: Jay Caboz/Forbes Africa

The chief executive of Anglo American Platinum said on Wednesday South Africa's AMCU union, whose members downed tools four weeks ago at its operations, was trying to achieve its wage demands through "violence and criminal acts".

Chris Griffith also said his company was exploring the option of trying to have the strike declared illegal by the courts because of the actions of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

He was spoke during a media briefing with the chief executives of Lonmin and Impala Platinum, whose operations have been hit by the same strike affecting over 40 percent of global output of the precious metal.

Amplats, the world's top platinum producer, has already launched a 591 million rand lawsuit against AMCU for what it says are damages its striking members have caused through violence, damage to property, and intimidation that the company says is keeping non-striking employees from working.

The stoppage itself by AMCU members has followed the letter of the law and is therefore considered a "protected" strike by South African law, which effectively means it is legal and striking employees cannot be fired for just downing tools.

But asked if there was the possibility of also using the courts to have the strike itself declared illegal or unprotected because of AMCU's alleged acts of violence and other transgressions, Griffith replied: "It is an option that we are exploring."

The companies said South Africa's platinum industry had lost 405 million US dollars in revenue so far to the strike and their latest pay offer to miners of 7-9 percent over three years "pushes the boundary of what is affordable and sustainable".

AMCU had demanded a more than doubling of basic entry level wages to 12,500 rand a month under the populist battle cry of a "living wage."

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