ANGLO American Platinum (Amplats) issued striking workers with an ultimatum yesterday to return to work or face dismissal as the strike in the platinum sector spread.
"I am making a personal appeal for all striking employees to return to work immediately," Amplats chief executive, Chris Griffith said. "If our employees do not heed this call, we simply have no choice but to begin disciplinary action tomorrow against any employees who remain on strike and that action could lead to dismissals."
Amplats is undertaking a review of its operations, as a result of low platinum prices due to weakened demand.
Griffith said the Rustenburg operations were already under considerable economic pressure.
The company reported less than 20% attendance there with a 26000-strong workforce. It confirmed it had also lost 20000 platinum ounces in production since the strike started on September 12.
Amplats said disciplinary action would be initiated today against employees who persisted in unlawful strike action. Shares in Amplats were down 5% in midday trade.
Meanwhile, AngloGold Ashanti said yesterday an illegal strike had spread through its operations and the majority of its 35000 workers in the country were now on strike.
"Workers at AngloGold Ashanti's South African operations have embarked on an unprotected strike, preventing the commencement of the night shift on September 25," the company said.
It did not say what the current demands were. South Africa accounted for about 32% of the group's global output of just over a million ounces of gold in the first half of this year.
AngloGold's Mponeng operation, the world's deepest mine which is extracting ore at a depth of 4km, is among those affected.
Most of AngloGold's 35000 employees had now joined the wildcat action which began last week at its Kopanang mine, spokesman Alan Fine said. – Reuters, Sapa