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South African union says 36,000 mining jobs under threat in next 3 months

JOHANNESBURG Feb 29 (Reuters) – South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Monday more than 36,000 jobs could be lost in the embattled industry over the next three months, around 7 percent of the roughly 500,000-strong labour force.

The South African mining industry is under pressure from sinking metal prices and soaring costs which have triggered a fresh wave of layoffs across a sector that has shed hundreds of thousands of jobs over the past two decades.

The jobs immediately under threat have been announced by several companies including Anglo American units Kumba Iron Ore and Anglo American Platinum.

The NUM General Secretary David Sipunzi told a media briefing that the union hoped talks with the companies – part of the legal process before workers can be laid off – would result in fewer jobs being lost.

Sipunzi also said that job cuts had seen the union’s membership numbers fall from 206,000 in 2015 to 198,000 in January – the first time the union’s numbers have fallen below 200,000 since its formation in the 1980s.

The union has also lost tens of thousands of members to arch-rival the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) in a bloody turf war in South Africa’s platinum belt.

The NUM’s falling membership will also be a concern for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) because the union, among others, is a key political ally of the party, which faces a tough test from opposition parties in local elections this year.


Source – Reuters