Amplats to resume South African operations on Wednesday

Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:20am EST
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By Agnieszka Flak and Sherilee Lakmidas

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Anglo American Platinum (AMSJ.J: Quote) expects operations at its South African mines to resume on Wednesday after workers staged a one-day walk-out following union violence at one of its mines, a spokeswoman said.

Tuesday's walk-out at the firm also known as Amplats added to tension at the world's largest producer of the precious metal, which was looking to shed about 14,000 jobs after a year of labor strife has cut into its production and revenue.

"Amplats has received information that its employees will be returning back to work tomorrow. We are happy to welcome our employees back," said spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole.

More than a dozen workers were wounded by rubber bullets or machetes in fighting at an Amplats mine on Monday, in the first major mine violence this year after deadly strife rocked the sector in 2012.

Police said the bloodshed was provoked by a dispute between the established National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and its rival, the growing Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) over access to a mine office.

Amplats security guards fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd at the mine in the Rustenburg region, about 120 km (70 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.

Some 10,000 workers gathered at the Bleskop Stadium in Rustenburg on Tuesday, angry about the company's interference in union disputes, said labor leader Evans Ramokga.

"The workers want an explanation from management as to why they interfere with union issues. Unions should fight their own battles," Ramokga told Reuters.   Continued...

File photo of striking platinum miners march near the Anglo-American Platinum (AMPLATS) mine near Rustenburg in South Africa's North West Province, October 5, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings