File image: Reuters

Government and unions could be blamed for the planned retrenchment of about 14,000 Anglo American Platinum workers, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.

“(This) a consequence of the toxic combination of a government that does not understand the economic realities of the mining industry, and trade unions more interested in their own power and money than the jobs of their members,” DA MP James Lorimer said.

He said in a statement the DA would propose several changes to the recently tabled amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

This involved a repeal of the imposition of limits on raw mineral exports and scrapping “super tax”.

“Every one of those miners who is losing their livelihood has the right to ask government and the unions to explain why they must bear the burden of the fecklessness of the tripartite alliance,” Lorimer said.

“If the government does not change course now, these workers and their families will simply be the first of many to lose their livelihoods.”

Earlier, Anglo American Platinum said it could cut up to 14,000 jobs in a major restructuring at its strike-hit South African operations.

The firm would close four shafts and sell a mine considered unsustainable, reported Agence France-Presse.

“As a result of the proposed changes to the business, a total of up to 14,000 jobs may be affected, 13,000 of which will be in the Rustenburg area,” Anglo Platinum said.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it planned to negotiate with the company.

“The NUM will engage the company in a bid to save these jobs and appeals on workers to work together to safeguard their own jobs,” said NUM general secretary Frans Baleni.

He said Anglo Platinum's decision to cut jobs was “shocking”.

“The NUM has repeatedly called upon workers to unite in order to defeat the evil nature of capitalism, which seeks to put profits first and humanity last,” said Baleni. - Sapa