12,000 sacked as SA mine strike turns deadly

October 5, 2012 5:16 pm
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“The crowd began stoning the police who then had to use stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse them,” spokesman Setlhako said in a statement.

The victim has not been officially identified, but colleagues told AFP the man, in his late 40s, was from the rural Eastern Cape province and had been a rock drill operator at the Bleskop shaft.

On Friday police cordoned off the hill with red tape as investigators examined the scene, while strikers barricaded roads close by with tyres and rocks.

“The situation is tense,” said local police spokesman Thulani Ngubane.

With around 100,000 workers currently on strike across the country, President Jacob Zuma – who has publically kept his distance from the crisis – on Thursday called for the work stoppages to end.

Speaking to business leaders in Johannesburg, he warned the strikes would hurt South Africa’s ability to attract more investment and growth.

“We should not seek to portray ourselves as a nation that is perpetually fighting.”

Investors, already spooked by earlier violence, warned Friday’s dismissals could deepen a crisis that has already paralysed an industry that accounts for around 20 of South Africa’s GDP.

“The government is doing nothing,” said Peter Attard Montalto, a strategist with Japanese bank Nomura, who warned the strikes had already shaved 0.2 to 0.3 percent off third quarter growth.

The South African rand sank against the dollar on news of renewed violence.

“We should not seek to portray ourselves as a nation that is perpetually fighting” – Zuma

Analysts have warned that the strikers’ demands will result in job losses in the country where one in every four employable people is already out of work.

Amplats will hope Friday’s high-stakes gambit gives them the leverage needed to end the unrest.

In February, Amplats’ rival Impala Platinum fired 17,000 workers, only to rehire them a few weeks later as part of a wage agreement.

Amplats on Friday indicated it was open to “exploring the possibility of bringing forward wage negotiations within our current agreements.”

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