South Africa’s AMCU union warns of industrial action at Implats over job cuts

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s AMCU union will embark on unspecified industrial action at Impala Platinum if talks with the company over its plans to cut a third of its workforce fail to stem the lay-offs, the union’s president said on Tuesday.

Joseph Mathunjwa, who in the past has led crippling strikes in the platinum sector, was speaking to journalists about Implats’ announcement last week about a blueprint to cut over 13,000 jobs at its Rustenburg operations as it seeks to restore profits.

“We will hit where it hurts,” Mathunjwa said.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) was renowned in the past for its militancy but it has mellowed in recent years and it is unclear what appetite there would be for a strike among its rank and file.

Implats’ flagship Rustenburg mine west of Johannesburg is a labour-intensive, conventional operation and most of those are losing money in South Africa in the face of soaring costs and depressed prices for platinum.

Most mechanised platinum mines are making money but that is not an option at Rustenburg because of geological constraints.

(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg and Patricia Aruo; writing by Ed Stoddard; editing by James Macharia and Jason Neely)

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