, JOHANNESBURG, July 9 – Thousands of workers at the world’s top platinum producer Anglo American Platinum in South Africa have returned to work after a brief wildcat strike, the company said Tuesday.
Some 5,600 mineworkers started downing tools on Sunday night over the suspension of 19 union leaders at Amplats operations in the Rustenburg mining belt in North West province.
“All of our workers have returned back to work and the situation is normal,” spokeswoman Bongeka Lwana told AFP.
The militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) whose shop stewards had been suspended confirmed that their workers were back on the mines.
“They have reported to work this morning,” said the union’s president, Joseph Mathunjwa.
Mathunjwa said the strike was called off after the suspension of the union leaders was lifted, adding that they would return to work Tuesday.
But this was dismissed as false by Amplats.
“The company has not lifted the suspensions and would like to advise that some of the disciplinary proceedings on these cases are scheduled for today,” Amplats said in a statement.
“Anglo American Platinum continues to engage with union leaders on the matter and believes that the fast-tracking of the disciplinary process will bring the matter to rest and return the operations back to stability.”
The shop stewards were suspended after taking part in an illegal sit in.
Amplats said the illegal strike action had affected two of its mines.
Early this year, the company announced plans to slash some 14,000 jobs in a bid to cut costs stemming from lengthy wildcat strikes.
The figure was revised to 6,000 following protests from both unions and the government.