BBC News Africa is reporting that members of the Association of Miners and Construction Trade Union (AMCU) are on strike. AMCU, which is the largest union in mining in the platinum sector is striking against the world’s top three producers of platinum in a dispute over pay. The author writes:
“South Africa holds about 80% of the world’s known platinum reserves – and the dispute is expected to cripple the global industry.”
Reuters reported that there was a split in the AMCU leadership leading up to the strike because some believe that moving forward with the strike is reckless and will irreparably harm the industry and economy. Others believe that without the strike, wages for miners will not improve.
Zandi Shabalala and Ed Stoddard of Reuters write:
“South Africa’s ailing economy cannot afford more mine labour unrest, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Monday, as investor confidence in the country’s mining sector hits bottom and the rand is trading near 5-year lows.”
The authors added:
“AMCU’s charismatic president, Joseph Mathunjwa, is under pressure to deliver on promises of a “living wage” of 12,500 rand ($1,200) a month on the platinum belt, more than double current levels.
But some accuse him of losing touch with rank and file concerns and setting the stage for a protracted strike that will hurt workers.”
This AMCU strike is the largest strike since 2012, when 34 workers were shot dead by police during the Marikana massacre.