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Afraid of no-one and ready for a long strike, union leader tells Implats
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Members of South Africa's
AMCU mining union are ready to strike for a year if necessary
and would bring the platinum belt to a standstill if Impala
Platinum carries out plans to cut up to 13,400 jobs,
the union's president said on Thursday.
Joseph Mathunjwa, who led a five-month strike in 2014, was
speaking at a televised memorial marking the sixth anniversary
of the "Marikana Massacre" when police shot dead 34 workers
taking part in a strike at Lonmin's platinum mine there.
"No-one scares us, five months was nothing," said a visibly
angry Mathunjwa before thousands of his members, adding that
nothing would move during the strike in the platinum belt, home
to one of South Africa's most important industries and location
of the majority of the world's reserves of the precious metal.
"I'm telling you, we will do it for 12 months and these
mines will not be operational, they will be at a standstill,
nothing will happening here in South Africa, the revolution is
imminent," Mathunjwa told the event at Marikana, 110 kms (70
miles) northwest of Johannesburg.
South Africa's platinum belt is a flashpoint of labour and
social unrest rooted in community grievances over jobs, revenue
flows and conflict between rival unions.
Mathunjwa warned last week of unspecified industrial action
by his Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU)
at Implats over its plans to cut around a third of its
workforce, in a bid to return to profits in the face of
depressed prices and soaring costs.
Unemployment in Africa's most industrialised economy stands
at more than 27 percent and job cuts are a hot political issue
ahead of national elections next year.
Mines minister Gwede Mantashe lashed out on Thursday at Gold
Fields' plans to cut 1,100 permanent jobs at its
loss-making South Deep mine, blaming the operation's performance
on poor management.
Chief Executive Nick Holland said he had no plans to step
down in the face of the criticism from Mantashe, a gruff former
trade unionist and chairman of the ruling African National
(Reporting by Siyabonga Sishi
Writing by Ed Stoddard
Editing by James Macharia and David Holmes)
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