Twelve thousand workers in Rustenburg South Africa were told on Friday they are without a job. The miners have been fired by the world’s largest platinum producer for taking part in a three-week illegal strike.
The action by Anglo American Platinum led to the miners trying to gather in protest on a hillside. Police backed by armoured vehicles and a helicopter dispersed the crowd.
It followed a night of clashes in which it is claimed one miner was shot and killed by police using rubber bullets.
It is reckoned 75,000 – that is about 15 per cent of the workforce – have been out on unofficial strikes. Friday’s sackings have added to the tension and heaped more pressure on President Jacob Zuma and his ruling African National Congress.
Another problem for the government is a two week authorised walk-out by truck drivers which is threatening fuel supplies. Shell has admitted it will not be able to meet delivery contracts around Johannesburg.
South Africa is going through the most damaging bout of industrial action since the end of apartheid.