May 15 - Workers at platinum producer Lonmin's South African shafts are striking for a second day. As Ivor Bennet reports there are fears the bitter turf war between rival unions could escalate into anarchy and violence.
"A dirty underground war" - that's what new mining strikes in South Africa are being called. And protests on the surface are getting pretty dirty too. It's day two of action at Lonmin's Marikana plant - the scene of a deadly confrontation with police last year. South African mining analyst Loane Sharp says the situation is threatening the entire country's economy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MINING ANALYST, LOANE SHARP, SAYING: "Foreign investors that i speak to have the impression that the South African government has lost control of labour relations in the country. Now if you think that labour issues are the fourth most problematic factor for doing business in South Africa, you can tell that foreign investment in South Africa is being carteled." Sorting it out won't be easy either. Splinter trade unions are gaining numbers and a bitter turf war is underway. At the weekend one union member was allegedly killed in a bar during a dispute between rival unions. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MINING ANALYST, LOANE SHARP, SAYING: "What we have seen in Marikana is not an isolated event, its a occurring this rivalry between unions through out the economy that rivalry will intensify. South Africa has already rated the worst country out of the 144 countries in terms of labour employers conflict this is by the World Economic Forum the most prestigious body publishing these statistics around the world. So South Africa's labour relations are in a state of chaos." Production at all 13 Lonmin shafts was halted on Tuesday and security was increased following reports of intimidation. The platinum producer has appealed for workers to return. But wage talks and job cuts still need to be discussed. And the prospect of more violence is growing. With it comes a warning from Moody's of a possible ratings downgrade for South Africa. And new share price worries for Lonmin - they were holding steady on Wednesday after a 7% fall when the strikes began.