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Strike-hit Amplats says suing union in South Africa

South African mining giant Anglo American (Amplats) on Saturday said it was suing a trade union for damages and losses suffered over the past three-week work stoppage.

“The company is suffering damages arising from the failure by AMCU (union) to maintain control of the strike,” Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole told AFP.

The world’s top platinum miner is seeking a payment of 591 million rands ($54 million, 40 million euros) for property damaged by striking members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) who it says have failed to adhere to picketing rules.

The sum will also compensate for increased costs to pay security staff overtime and for losses due to “the loss of production that would have been possible if non-striking workers were not prevented from working.”

The provisional damages claim comes to “about 591-million rand, although as AMCU’s wrongful conduct is continuing, the damages will continue to accrue,” she said.

The case was filed with the High Court on Friday.

AMCU secretary general Jeff Mpahlele said he was unaware of any litigation against the union.

Tens of thousands of platinum mining workers have downed tools since January 23 at Amplats, Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin — the world’s top three producers of the mineral.

The workers, who are demanding the doubling of their monthly wages to $1,125, have so far rejected an initial offer of least seven percent each of the next three years.

The strike is costing Amplats about 100 million rand daily or 4,000 ounces a day of the metal that is used in products from catalytic converters to computer hard disks and dental fillings.

The on-and-off government-mediated negotiations to end the pay dispute resume on Monday when the state arbitration body will meet separately with the union.