* Hundreds hold rally at platinum belt stadium
* Strikes raise worries about government finances
* Wildcat strikers sacked at Bokoni mine
By Jon Herskovitz
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 6 Hundreds of striking South
African workers rallied on Saturday to press Anglo American
Platinum to revoke its decision to fire 12,000 wildcat strikers
amid a wave of labour strife sweeping Africa's largest economy.
Nearly 50 people have been killed since August in labour
conflict in the crucial mining sector, and President Jacob
Zuma's ruling ANC is struggling to damp down some of the worst
social unrest since the end of apartheid in 1994.
Several hundred workers, watched by police in armoured
vehicles and a helicopter, held a two-hour rally in a soccer
stadium near the platinum belt hub city of Rustenburg, 120 km
(70 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, and were urged to fight
for their jobs.
The hastily arranged rally, held under a blazing sun and
punctuated by songs of labour struggle, was more subdued than
other protests over the past weeks where strikers brandished
machetes and clubs, threatening to set fire to mine shafts.
Workers said the termination notice, delivered to many by
SMS, caught them by surprise on Friday, despite repeated threats
from Amplats that it planned to discipline strikers.
"It just isn't fair. The company pays me little and I have
worked here for years," one of the sacked miners, who asked not
to be named, told Reuters by phone.
Others told local media they would not give up the fight for
higher wages, even if that meant more violence.
Strike leaders said workers would stay off the job, making
sure Amplats' mines cannot extract ore.
"There will be no operations that will operate. An ordinary
worker is prepared to die for his own rights," one of the strike
leaders Evans Ramokga, told Reuters.
Ramokga said there had been secret talks to broker a
settlement, but Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said she would
not "qualify that with a comment", adding "there has been no
The sackings at Amplats (Anglo American Platinum)
on Friday triggered a 4 percent fall to 3-1/2 year lows in South
Africa's rand as investors dumped the country's assets.
In a related move, Atlatsa Resources has sacked some
of the 2,500 workers who went on a wildcat strike this week at
its Bokoni platinum mine in South Africa, a company official
said on Saturday.
Bokoni, a joint venture with Anglo American Platinum, is to
release more details of the move on Monday. Workers have two
days to appeal the decision.
Each miner supports on average about eight to 10 people,
often living in abject poverty, according to industry data. The
sackings could cut off income to more than 100,000 people.
Wage increases of up to 22 percent awarded to end a wildcat
strike at Lonmin's platinum mine last month have led
other workers to strike at other mines, car makers and municipal
Zuma tried to reassure investors by saying this week that
since the end of white-minority rule South Africans have shown
"the capacity to overcome difficulties when we work together".
With an ANC leadership run-off looming in December, Nelson
Mandela's 100-year-old liberation movement is preoccupied with
its own divisions. Zuma is seen as unlikely to take any action
that could upset his political allies in the unions.
In a move that helped relieve some of the tension, several
hundred striking miners ended a three-day work stoppage at the
South African operations of Petra Diamonds late on
"There was no deal. They just agreed to return to work,"
Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for the powerful National Union of