South African court blocks mine union’s plan for industry-wide strike

Potential 6,000 jobs cut in restructuring

RUSTENBURG, South Africa (Reuters) — South Africa’s labour court has rejected a request by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) to hold an industry-wide strike covering the platinum and gold sectors, Anglogold Ashanti, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin said on Friday.

AMCU has been on strike at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations since mid-November in a pay dispute. It wanted to extend the strike to at least 11 other mining firms including Anglo American’s gold and platinum operations, Harmony Gold and Lonmin.

“We welcome the decision of the court to grant an interdict against the secondary strike action called by AMCU. We maintain that a secondary strike by AMCU would not be in the best interests of our employees or the industry,” Anglo American Platinum’s chief executive, Chris Griffith, said.

In a statement, Lonmin confirmed the judgment.

The Johannesburg Labour Court was not immediately available for comment, and AMCU spokesman Manzini Zungu did not respond to requests from Reuters to confirm the ruling.

In February, the labour court ordered AMCU to suspend its plans for an industry-wide sympathy strike following an application by producers.

Sibanye-Stillwater said last month it could cut nearly 6,000 jobs at its gold mining operations in a potential restructuring plan as above-inflation cost increases to labour and electricity gnawed at its margins.

Job cuts are politically sensitive in Africa’s most industrialized economy, where the unemployment rate is more than 27 per cent.

Data on Thursday showed gold production contracted for the 15th month in a row, shrinking by 22.5 per cent in January, while platinum production was up 8.8 per cent in the same period.

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