21 May 2019

South Africa: Another Day, Another Wildcat Strike On South Africa's Platinum Belt


Anglo American Platinum, the world's top producer of the precious metal, has just dismissed hundreds of workers at its Mototolo mine for taking part in an unprotected strike. This is not that unusual on the platinum belt, which remains a flashpoint of social and labour unrest. What is unusual is the union behind it: the General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa. Given the union's obscurity and apparently small size, the dispute has a good prospect of getting resolved, while underlining the fraught labour environment mining companies in SA operate in.

You have probably never heard of the General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA), though its tactics are far from unheard of, with a page straight out of the far better known Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union's (AMCU) playbook.

According to Anglo American Platinum, GIWUSA served it with a strike notice at its Mototolo Mine on Thursday 9 May. Amplats said on Monday that the dispute centred on alleged changes that the company made to the employees' medical scheme after the mine was acquired in November 2018 from Glencore. Amplats said the union alleges this was a "unilateral change" in conditions of service imposed on its members,...

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