Johannesburg - South African labour union AMCU warned on Monday its strike at Anglo American Platinum could be prolonged and has the potential to spread to other major platinum producers.
“If we are pushed, we will ask for a secondary strike where all our members in different sectors will be called to support the same cause,” AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa told a news conference in Johannesburg.
The strike over job cuts at the world's largest platinum producer has already cost the company, also known as Amplats, about $39 million in lost output and sent its share price down 9 percent since the walk-out started at the end of last month.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) is the dominant union at other major platinum producer including Impala Platinum and Lonmin.
It is calling on Amplats to revise a job-cut plan by sacking contract workers ahead of regular staff who command higher salaries.
Amplats, a unit of global miner Anglo American, wants to cut about 4,800 jobs.
It originally aimed to eliminate as many as 14,000, but scaled back its plans after fierce criticism from the government and unions.
The company and other platinum producers in the country home to about 80 percent of the world's know platinum reserves, have seen their finances squeezed by falling prices for the precious metal and rising labour costs.
But jobs are a sensitive issue in South Africa, where the unemployment rate has been stuck for years at around 25 percent and the ruling African National Congress is facing national elections next year.
At the weekend, a four-week strike that crippled production in the car sector appeared to come to an end when union NUMSA said it had reached a deal to end the labour action at auto components plants. - Reuters