Workers rally against 12,000 sackings

Last updated 05:00 07/10/2012
striking miners
MINERS RALLY: The sacking of 12,000 workers has caused further tension.

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Striking South African workers rallied on Saturday to press Anglo American Platinum to revoke its decision to fire 12,000 wildcat strikers amid a wave of labour strife sweeping Africa's largest economy.

Nearly 50 people have been killed since August in labour conflict in the crucial mining sector, and President Jacob Zuma's ruling ANC is struggling to damp down some of the worst social unrest since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Several hundred workers, watched closely by police, held a rally in a soccer stadium near the platinum belt hub city of Rustenburg, 120 km (70 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, and were urged to fight for their jobs.

''Ignore those SMS's you've received saying you have been dismissed,'' one labour leader was quoted as saying by radio broadcaster Eyewitness News.

The sackings at Amplats (Anglo American Platinum) on Friday triggered a 4 percent fall to 3-1/2 year lows in South Africa's rand as investors dumped the country's assets.

Wage increases of up to 22 percent awarded to end a wildcat strike at Lonmin's platinum mine last month have led other workers to strike at other mines, car makers and municipal governments.

Zuma tried to reassure investors by saying this week that since the end of white-minority rule South Africans have shown ''the capacity to overcome difficulties when we work together''.

In a move that helped relieve tensions, several hundred striking miners have ended a three-day work stoppage at the South African operations of Petra Diamonds.

''There was no deal. They just agreed to return to work,'' Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for the powerful National Union of Mineworkers, told Reuters.

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- Reuters

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