Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the biggest producer of the metal, attempted to appease the South African government by cutting back on planned job losses at its mines to about 6,000, which is less than half what was initially proposed.
However, the cuts will take 250,000 ounces out of global platinum production this year and a further 100,000 ounces a year in the medium term, the company said. Initially, Amplats had wanted to cut output by 400,000 ounces.
"Thousands of families face losing their only breadwinner and communities... will be devastated by the impact of such heavy job losses," Congress of SA Trade Unions spokesman Patrick Craven said on Friday, according to South Africa Press Association.
"This illustrates why Cosatu has consistently called for the nationalization of the mining industry, so that it can be run for the benefit of the workers... and not for the profit of shareholders."
The reduced number of job losses is likely to soften the blow for South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), which faces an election next year, but it remains to be seen if it appeases the anger of powerful local unions.
"Everyone is surprised. We were not expecting any retrenchment at all. We can't allow this," Sphamandla Makhanya told Reuters. "But before we do anything we are going to have a mass meeting with the workers to decide what to do next."