June 3 - Glencore Xstrata sacks 1,000 workers across three of its chrome mines for staging an illegal strike and a worker is shot dead at a Lonmin mine. Sonia Legg reports on the escalating unrest in South Africa.
1000 is today's daily digit - the number of workers sacked by Glencore Xstrata for staging an illegal strike at three chrome mines. There have been many strikes at South African mines in recent months. The sackings - and a new shooting at a Lonmin mine which left a union shop steward dead - will add to long-running friction in the mining industry. It's caused production to slow, raised concerns about Africa's largest economy and sent the rand to fresh four-year lows. President Jacob Zuma acknowledged the dangers last week. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA, SAYING: "Our country needs a stable and growing mining industry." But mining analyst Loane Sharp says Zuma's handicapped by a dysfunctional government. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MINING ANALYST LOANE SHARP, SAYING: "He can't move in any one direction too significantly without upsetting some partner or other, so he can't promote the department of trade and industry because that will upset the department of labour and he can't promote the department of constitutional development because that will offend the department of trade and industry. We're sitting with a a kind of policy paralysis that implies to me the president has no serious understanding what's going on." Sacking strikers is a tactic regularly adopted by companies in South Africa. The dismissed employees are often rehired on new contracts But Glencore Xstrata's action is likely to upset unions. They're already embroiled in a turf war and wage negotiations are looming.