Labour Unrest Spreads to South Africa’s Gold Mining Sector

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Gold Refinery photo

Mining is the Backbone of South Africa’s economy

Production was interrupted at six AngloGold Ashanti mines on Wednesday when more workers joined a strike, the mine said.

Operations at the company’s mines West Wits, Kopanang in Carletonville, and the Vaal River regions, near Orkney, came to a standstill when workers did not report for their shifts on Tuesday night.

“Workers at the West Wits and balance of the Vaal River regions’ operations joined those at Kopanang, who embarked on an unprotected work stoppage on September 20,” said AngloGold Ashanti spokesman Alan Fine.

The strike comes amid other industrial action in South Africa’s gold and platinum mining sector.

“Discussions are being held with representative trade unions on an industry-wide basis through the [SA] Chamber of Mines. No formal demands have yet been presented to management by the striking workers,” he said.

Fine could not give the number of workers on strike.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said the workers had downed tools at AngloGold Ashanti in demand of a monthly salary of R12,500.

It is the same amount initially demanded by workers at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana. They recently settled with their employer.

The NUM which has been seen recently as siding with mine owners against the workers it supposedly represents said there was no point in going on an unprotected strike.

It said it had also received requests from other workers demanding the same minimum wage as the Marikana miners.