November 12, 2012 / 6:44 AM / in 8 years

Amplats threatens South Africa strikers with sacking

Strikers chant slogans outside the Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) mines near Rustenburg, 120 km (70 miles) northwest of Johannesburg October 30, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - World no. 1 platinum producer Anglo American Platinum (AMSJ.J) (Amplats) said on Monday it was too early to tell whether South African miners on an illegal strike will return after the company told them to resume work or face sacking.

“We will have an idea later in the morning,” Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole told Reuters when asked whether the miners were reporting for duty.

But a labor leader at Amplats said the strike was on-going as no agreement had been reached.

“It’s only the management that decided the workers should go back to work without an agreement. Nobody went to work, the strike is still going on,” Evans Ramokga told Reuters.

Amplats said on Friday it offered a 4,500 rand ($520) one-off payment and agreed to start wage talks ahead of the expiry of current agreements next year in a bid to get around 30,000 workers back on the job at several of its mines.

The offer would lapse if workers do not show up for work on Monday.

The cost of the wildcat action, in its second month, is mounting and Amplats said it had lost almost 168,000 ounces in platinum production, worth over $250 million at current spot prices.

South Africa’s gold and platinum sectors have been shaken by months of illegal and often violent strikes which have resulted in the deaths of around 50 people so far this year.

Most of the affected gold operations are back to work but Amplats, a unit of global mining giant Anglo American (AAL.L), is still struggling with the crippling strikes at a time when the viability of its operations are being scrutinised.

Reporting by David Dolan and Olivia Kumwenda; Editing by Ed Stoddard

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