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03 Oct 2012 15:28
Miners at Kumba Iron Ore's Sishen mine have gone on a wildcat strike - a fresh sign of escalating labour unrest in Africa's largest economy. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)
As many as 75 000 miners, or 15% of South Africa's mining sector's total workforce, are already out on strikes that have hit platinum and gold mining firms and further threatened the country's shaky growth prospects.
The recent weeks of labour strife, in which more than 45 people have been killed, have stirred up criticism of the ANC and President Jacob Zuma, who faces a challenge from ANC rivals ahead of a party leadership conference in December.
"Our members at Sishen say the guys went on strike from 2am this morning and our understanding is that senior executives flew down there early this morning," Gideon du Plessis, deputy general secretary of the trade union Solidarity, said on Wednesday.
Solidarity was not participating in the strike. A Kumba spokesperson declined to comment but said the company would issue a statement shortly.
Kumba, a unit of global miner Anglo American, is one of the world's top 10 producers of iron ore, which is used in the production of steel.
The company produced 41.3-million tonnes of ore in 2011.
The industrial action in the iron ore mining sector comes amid a worsening security situation in South Africa's strike-hit platinum belt and a national truckers' strike that has started to squeeze fuel suppliers in the country.
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