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Thursday 2nd
posted by James Tweedie in Britain

SOUTH African miners rallied against the latest round of 7,000 redundancies in the nation’s key industry yesterday.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) called a mass meeting yesterday afternoon at the workers’ hostel at Sibanye Gold’s Cooke mine south-west of the Soweto township near Johannesburg.

That was after the firm sent redundancy notices to more than 2,000 workers on Tuesday, telling them not to report for work as it was mothballing the mine’s operations. 

It confirmed yesterday that 6,976 jobs would be axed, 1,350 going voluntarily.

In July, the NUM said the industry had shed more than 80,000 in five years due to increased automation — but almost 20,000 redundancies had been announced this year alone.

NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu said: “NUM members will not give up their struggle for a dignified life against capitalist barbarism,” vowing to “show their fighting spirit and tenacity.”

Mr Mammburu said the firm was “pursuing a strategy of sabotage and destroying jobs in South Africa” under CEO Neal “Mr Fix-it” Froneman — who he dubbed “Mr Bungle.”

In May, Sibanye bought out US mining firm Stillwater for around £1 billion in the largest such deal in the global platinum group metals sector in a decade, rebranding itself Sibanye-Stillwater.

“We are very worried that Sibanye has decided to destroy jobs in South Africa in order for them to finance their new acquisition,” Mr Mammburu said.

“We believe that the more than 20bn rand (£1bn) spent on that venture should have been used to create jobs where that wealth was generated.”

“It is now clear to everybody that these mining companies have no interest in investing in this country,” Mr Mammburu said.

The minerals-energy complex is the backbone of South Africa’s rapidly developing economy, with coal mined in the country powering the nation’s national grid and industries.

Textiles union Sactwu said yesterday that national energy firm Eskom’s proposal for a massive 19.9 per cent tariff increase for the next financial year would destroy jobs.

That came a day after the NUM accused the Chamber of Mines of “arrogance” and “negotiating in bad faith” over national pay rates in the coalmining sector, where they had failed to meet the union’s minimum demands.

Eskom pays in advance for coal from the biggest mining firms, at a price guaranteed to turn a profit.