Free Food For South African Miners, Strike Settlement In Sight

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Striking workers gathered at mines near Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, for free food handouts as they waited to hear about a possible deal to end the longest mining strike in South Africa’s history, according to an AFP video.

Platinum mine workers have been striking for five months and the need for relief is dire in all the affected mining communities, said Wendy Mofokeng, a food bank worker.

The strike by 70,000 platinum miners has become the longest in South Africa’s history, costing companies $2 billion in lost revenue and hurting the country’s exports and tax receipts, according to the WallStreetJournal. The miners’ union and employers said Friday they were close to a deal to end the strike.

But now 200,000 metalworkers are threatening to walk off the job in July if their demands for higher salaries aren’t met, suggesting South Africa’s labor woes are far from over, WSJ reports.

Global ratings agency Fitch revised South Africa’s credit rating outlook downward from stable to negative Friday because of a deterioration in the country’s growth prospects. 

Fitch said it expects South Africa’s economy to grow 1.7 percent in 2014 compared to the  sub-Saharan African average, which is expected to grow 5.4 percent, the International Monetary Fund said.