Feb.22 - South Africa's biggest unions urge striking miners to go back to work at the world's second largest platinum producer in an effort to end a violent labour dispute which has left two people dead and wiped out some local businesses. Hayley Platt reports.
Angry workers gather in Freedom Park, a South African township near the Impala Platinum mine where they work. It's the world's biggest Platinum only mine and unions are trying to solve a long and costly dispute. Thousands of miners went on strike last month over bonuses. Production came to a halt after Impala sacked 17,000 employees. The month-long strike has hit the company's output and global platinum prices. Now the unions are trying to persuade the miners to return to work. (SOUNDBITE) (English) COSATU SECRETARY GENERAL ZWELINZIMA VAVI SAYING: "Management have to come to the party. They must realise that they made the biggest mistake in their lives. They managed the issue of a special offer to the miners very badly. They have paid very dearly for that. They have to resolve it or else this situation will stand as it is in a long time" The row turned bloody after workers went on a rampage. Two miners were killed for trying to cross the picket line. And several local businesses were set ablaze in overnight clashes. The plant accounts for 15 percent of the world's platinum output. It's a key ingredient for catalytic converters in cars. Fears over disruptions to supplies caused platinum prices to soar by 7 percent. Earlier this month bosses at the plant said it had lost $155 million in revenue. They also warned that output and earnings for the rest of the year would take a hit. Tensions are still running high even though the company has re-hired around 7,800 workers. 900 of those are rock drill operators but Impala needs at least 2,000 of them to restart production. It hopes the union can win over the workers as it says the dispute has cost them at least 80,000 ounces in lost output. Hayley Platt, Reuters.