JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African police arrested 37 workers for public violence on Tuesday after firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters who barricaded a road leading to the Kroondal chrome mine operated by Xstrata.
“The miners threw stones at the passing vehicles and burnt tires. Police were dispatched to the area to control the unruly protesters,” the South African Police Service said in a statement.
Xstrata dismissed 400 workers at the mine over a week ago for taking part in an illegal strike.
It was the second consecutive day of clashes around the Kroondal mine near the platinum belt’s hub city of Rustenburg, about 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.
The shanty-towns that ring Rustenburg have been the scene of frequent riots this year as a wave of illegal and often violent strikes have swept the platinum and gold sectors.
World no. 1 platinum producer Anglo American Platinum was still battling to prod around 30,000 workers back to their posts who are on illegal strikes at several of its South African mines, including its Rustenburg operations.
Wednesday is the deadline for the strikers to accept Amplats’ latest offer or face being sacked - a scenario that could stoke further violence.
South African labor law requires clear and formal processes for strikes and walk-outs. Those that do not go through all the proper hoops are considered illegal, and can result in striking workers being sacked.
Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Jon Herskovitz