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South Africa strike spreads to metalworkers

Published on 02/02/2014

Metalworkers at the South African operations of Anglo American Platinum are to strike over pay, the country's largest trade union NUMSA said Sunday.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 Amplats metalworkers will down tools from Monday, the union said, adding to the woes of the world’s top producer of the precious metal whose South African miners are already on strike.

“The strike will start tomorrow,” said Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

The union is demanding double-digit pay increases and a doubling of the salaries of the worst-paid workers to 2,500 rand (170 euros, $225), Jim said.

It also wants improved accommodation and transport for the metalworkers, double pay on holidays and to end the practice of conducting body searches at the end of a shift.

Amplats, which will publish its results on Monday, has already been hard hit by a platinum miners strike that also affects rival firms Implats and Lonmin.

Negotiations between the three major platinum mine owners and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) are expected to resume on Tuesday.

The CEOs of the three platinum producers this week raised the spectre of restructuring and layoffs if the strike persisted.

“Prolonged strike action will result in more losses, and further fundamental restructuring and, inevitably, this will have an impact on jobs and indeed the economy,” they said in a joint statement.

The miners are demanding a base monthly salary of 12,500 rands (820 euros, $1,150), about double their current pay.

It is the same demand that spurred 2012 strikes, which turned violent and resulted in the police shooting dead 34 miners on one day.