4000 strike at South African platinum mine

The trend of violence and unrest continues in the South African mining industry as up to 4,000 mineworkers were on a sit-in strike at an Anglo-American Platinum mine on Friday.

The workers went on strike in the country’s troubled platinum region to protest against the suspension of four leaders, a union representative told AFP.

The four local unionists were suspended ‘for inappropriate behaviour which is against our behavioural procedure’, Anglo American Platinum said.

The four leaders from the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) were suspended after it was claimed they presented fraudulent membership applications to boost union membership numbers.

Workers from AMCU at the mine’s Thembelani shaft in Rustenburg would not come out since the 4am shift began, according to AMCU leader George Tyobeka.

“They don’t want to come out from underground because they want their leadership’s suspension lifted,” he said.

He confirmed between 3000 and 4000 people were on strike, The West Australian reported.

A union leader at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine was shot earlier this month as two men pursued and shot dead a local shaft leader from the National Union of Mineworkers and gravely wounded the union's treasurer.

The strike is ill-timed for the government, which attempted to end an 18-month crisis on Friday in the mining industry by drafting a deal between mining bosses and unions.

Vice President Kgalema Mothlanthe, who led the talks, said the draft needs tweaking.

The deal is to be signed on June 26.

The draft deal said government, mining companies and unions would work together to strengthen workplace relations and avert violent clashes during strikes.

However, the draft did not mention tactics to deal with imminent strikes at Lonmin mine.

AMCU is at loggerheads with the NUM in a bloody war for control at the mines, with violent strikes and assassinations.

Last year, violent strikes at the Lonmin mine in Marikana led to police killing 34 miners in one day.

Eight NUM members recently faced suspension for union membership fraud at Lonmin.

President Jacob Zuma asked his deputy to re-establish calm in the sector after the economy hit new lows of 0.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2013.

Newly appointed Anglo American chief Mark Cutifani recently turned to divine intervention at the Vatican for advice on community relations as he tried to deal with the social complexities of Africa's mining industry.

He visited the Vatican in an effort to engage more with African communities affected by mining. He said he met with Ghana-born Cardinal Peter Tuckson.

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