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South Africa: Amplats fires 12,000 miners on wildcat strike

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world's largest platinum producer, fired 12,000 of its workers in South Africa for taking part in a three-week illegal strike.

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Striking mine workers protest outside an Anglo American mine on October 5, 2012 in Rustenburg, South Africa. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the world's largest platinum producer, has fired 12,000 workers in South Africa for taking part in a wildcat strike.

Amplats on Friday fired the workers, who were based at the company's Rustenburg operations northwest of Johannesburg.

The miners had been on a three-week illegal strike over wages, and were officially dismissed for failing to attend disciplinary hearings, the company said. 

South Africa's mining industry has been hit by a wave of wildcat strikes in the last two months. 

Eyewitness News reported that hundreds of Amplats workers gathered Saturday morning at a stadium in Rustenburg to discuss their response to the mass firing.

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Amplats said in a statement the strikes had cost it 39,000 ounces in lost output that translated into 700 million rand ($82.3 million) in lost revenue.

Four of the company's mining sites have had too few workers to operate, the company said.

"Despite the company’s repeated calls for employees to return to work, we have continued to experience attendance levels of less than 20 percent," the Amplats statement said. 

In August, 34 people were shot dead by police, and 78 others injured, outside the Lonmin-owned Marikana platinum mine also near Rustenburg where workers had launched an illegal strike.

Reuters reported that a trade union leader was shot dead Friday evening near a mine run by Lonmin.

A National Union of Mineworkers spokesman told the news agency that the NUM branch leader had been killed "execution style," but gave no further details.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/south-africa/121005/south-africa-amplats-fires-12000-miners-wildcat-strike