strikes

South Africa’s upstart miners’ trade union, Amcu, is starting 2014 with a bang.

Not content with becoming the recognised union over the older, more established National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), it is looking to pull off the impressive feat of organising strikes at South Africa’s three biggest platinum companies – Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), and Impala Platinum (Implats). That’s a combined 70,000 workers. And, more importantly, around two-thirds of the world’s platinum output. Read more

For BMW in South Africa, genug ist genug.

Strikes are a fact of life for many companies in Africa’s largest economy but last week German carmaker BMW said that wage disputes had gone too far and cancelled plans to ramp up production at its Rosslyn plant. The response from the union? BMW is “blackmailing” the country. Read more

By Jude Webber and Jack Farchy

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, so the saying goes.

But a $200m-a-day lunch? That is about what a nearly three-week-old ports strike in Chile is costing in paralysed exports and imports, according to Chile’s Chamber of Commerce. There are some 9,000 tonnes a day of copper trapped in ports in the world’s top copper producing nation because of the stoppage. Read more

Colombia’s coffee tastes sweeter, once again.

On Friday, the country’s cafeteros – or coffee growers- and the government finally came to an agreement that puts an end to a strike that has left several people wounded. Read more

Wake up and smell the coffee.

That’s the message Colombian coffee growers have for Bogotá as tens of thousands of them took to the streets this week.

The nationwide strike, the first in the country’s history, have resulted in road blockades in several provinces and violent clashes with security forces that left several people wounded. Read more

Five workers were reported to have been shot by security guards on Monday at an Anglo American Platinum mine in South Africa. With relations between the world’s largest platinum miner, its workforce and the South African government already strained, the incident will have significant repercussions. Read more

Shares in Impala Platinum fell by as much as 3.4 per cent on Monday morning in Johannesburg following the release of a trading statement from the South African mining company detailing a fall in half-year profits.

The statement, warning shareholders ahead of the company’s half-year results on Thursday, says basic earnings per share for the six months ending December 31, 2012 are expected to be up to 79 per cent lower than the equivalent period in 2011, at 120-138 cents. Read more

It’s been a tricky few days for South Africa’s electricity public utility Eskom. Strikes, controversy over political breakfasts, allegations of spying on unions and others, anger over price hikes: it’s a lot to contend with.

At Eskom’s Medupi site in Limpopo, strike action has halted construction of the R91bn ($10bn) coal-fired power plant. It was hoped work could resume on Thursday (Jan 24), but talks have yet to produce an agreement. Read more

It didn’t take long for the ghosts of the violent labour unrest South Africa endured in 2012 to resurface.

The year is not yet two weeks old, but already pictures of police in riot gear dispersing hundreds of striking workers are being beamed across South African television channels. On Wednesday, more than 1,500 farm workers in the fruit growing Western Cape Province downed their tools to demand their minimum salary – a paltry R69 a day – is raised to R150. Read more

Cristina Fernández, Argentina’s president, faced her first general strike on Tuesday. She must be getting used to protests by now, after big anti-government rallies on November 8 (dubbed 8N) and September 13 (13S).

While previous protests were the middle classes who took to the streets, this time it was workers, the bedrock of the ruling Peronist movement. For a president who is flattered by comparisons with Evita, the darling of the working-class in late 1940s and early 1950s Argentina, it must have been a painful sight. Read more

Escalating disputes between labour unions and employers in north Africa are threatening to derail economic recovery after the uprisings that ousted long-ruling dictators in the region, writes Farah Halime.

Emboldened by the spirit of political change, thousands of workers in Egypt and Tunisia have staged a series of protests and are now in deadlocked talks with companies over demands for a minimum wage. Read more

In most lines of work, being fired means just that. In South African mining, it can be just part of the negotiations.

Thursday is shaping up to be a big day in the mining stand-off that has rocked the industry following the deaths of platinum miners in Lonmin’s Marikana complex back in August. Read more

Who will blink first in the South African mining standoff? On Tuesday, Gold Fields, the gold miner, delivered a “final ultimatum” to the workers still on strike at two of its mines, who face dismissal if they aren’t back at work by Thursday.

But one of the main unions said dismissals were “not the way to go” and urged mine bosses to withdraw the threat. Read more

It’s been a tough old week for the South African rand. On Monday (October 8) it broke the 8.9 rand to the dollar barrier, weakening to levels not seen since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009.

But the pressure was somewhat relieved on Friday, with a little good news. The two-week truck drivers strike came to an end with a sizeable wage agreement. It helped nudge the rand back down to around 8.6 to the dollar. Read more

Platinum, then gold, then transport, now iron ore. Strikes in South Africa just keep on spreading.

The latest miner to be affected is Kumba Iron Ore, which is majority owned by Anglo American. On Wednesday 300 miners started a wildcat strike at the company’s Sishen mine in the Northern Cape. While it’s a small proportion of the total workforce, it’s a worry, and the share price shows it. Read more

The Marikana miners may have agreed a settlement with Lonmin, but South African mining strikes are far from over. AngloGold Ashanti is now in the eye of the storm.

After closing its Kopanang mine after a strike that began last week with 5,000 workers, the company has now halted all South African operations as most of its 35,000 employees have joined the industrial action. Shares are down 3 per cent in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Read more

By Thero Setiloane of Business Leadership South Africa

It is probably too soon to say whether the very fabric of our labour relations framework is being torn apart in South Africa. I don’t think it’s too soon to say that it is being challenged in a deep and fundamental way. All mining companies will be affected by this and will need to approach this change in an open and constructive way.

One of the biggest challenges to that framework has been the initial R12,500 basic monthly wage demand made by the Lonmin workers. That demand was until recently one of the enduring features of the current unrest but its potential impact on the mining industry and what it tells us about labour relations in South Africa hasn’t really been understood. Read more

August has been a tough month for mining in South Africa, and it’s just got worse. Shares in Gold Fields, the gold producer, tumbled by as much as 8.4 per cent on Friday on the announcement of a wildcat strike by 12,000 workers in the company’s KDC mine, before recovering to down 2.84 per cent.

The company’s statement said that the strikes started on Wednesday night, and two night shifts as well as two day shifts have been lost. While a Gold Fields spokesman said there was “no evidence” of any connection to the strikes that have hit Lonmin, the platinum miner, which resulted in 44 deaths, it’s hard to see how miners at KDC would be unaffected by or oblivious to events that have dominated South African headlines. Read more

South Africa’s mining industry is again confronted by labour unrest. Production at the Marikana platinum mining complex run by Lonmin PLC, the world’s third largest platinum producer, has been halted since August 10 by 3,000 striking rock drillers demanding higher wages. Read more