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Eastern Cape - It would be a “careless business decision” for Anglo American Platinum to retrench workers and shut down shafts, the Eastern Cape ANC said on Thursday.

“Given the fact that Amplats announced early last year that they will conduct a review of their business, we think if this is the outcome of that review, it was lazy and anti-development,” secretary Lubabalo Mabuyane said in a statement.

“They failed to come up with credible business ideas but rather opted to sacrifice the lives of scores of the workers and their families.”

The African National Congress in the province said Amplats should “go back to the drawing board” and come up with a better proposal.

“The mooted massive retrenchment of about 14 000 workers... is a careless business decision,” said Mabuyane.

On Tuesday, workers embarked on a strike and refused to go underground following the company's announcement that about 14 000 jobs could be lost by its plan to stop production at four of its shafts in Rustenburg.

The Amplats announcement came after Harmony Gold said it was suspending operations at its Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville to review operations after several illegal strikes.

“What Amplats is not telling us is, how much will their managers and shareholders get, will they get bonuses and will they still enjoy the perks they do,” Mabuyane said.

“Amplats must come up with a better business thinking, something that will not push for job cuts. They must come up with a credible business solution,” he said.

“Cutting jobs will not solve their challenges but protecting these jobs could. Amplats must be honest with us and tell us the truth and nothing but truth.”

He said Amplats' responsibilities were not only to the shareholders but to their workers as well.

Meanwhile, Anglo American Platinum miners have returned to work and abandoned their illegal strike on Wednesday night, the company said.

“I can confirm that our employees have clocked in and have proceeded underground to commence with their shifts at our Rustenburg operations and in the north of Pilanesburg, all is normal,” spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said.

The National Union of Mineworkers said workers agreed on Wednesday to return to work and the union would try to persuade the company to not go ahead with the retrenchments.

“There are still a few workers that have not returned to work especially in the Khomanani mine but we are confident that they will return today (Thursday),” spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said.

“Our next step is to engage in talks with Amplats.”

North West premier Thandi Modise will lead a provincial delegation on Thursday to meet Amplats management and share the provincial government's concerns on the impact of job losses.

“The North West Province, known as the platinum province, is responsible for 94 percent of South Africa's platinum. The province might be the worst hit by Amplats proposal as 13 000 of the jobs are in the Rustenburg area,” spokesman Lesiba Kgwele said.

Kgwele said Modise would “interrogate how these could be mitigated” if the proposal proceded.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union is expected to brief the media on its response to Amplats' restructuring announcement on Thursday morning.

Anglo American Platinum announced this week it could cut up to 14 000 jobs, close four shafts and sell a mine considered unsustainable. - Sapa