Wires

UPDATE 2-S.African strikers press Amplats to revoke sackings

* Hundreds hold rally at platinum belt stadium

* Strikes raise worries about government finances

* Wildcat strikers sacked at Bokoni mine

(Adds quotes from labour leader, Amplats; details on rally)

By Jon Herskovitz

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Hundreds of striking SouthAfrican workers rallied on Saturday to press Anglo AmericanPlatinum to revoke its decision to fire 12,000 wildcat strikersamid a wave of labour strife sweeping Africa's largest economy.

Nearly 50 people have been killed since August in labourconflict in the crucial mining sector, and President JacobZuma's ruling ANC is struggling to damp down some of the worstsocial unrest since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Several hundred workers, watched by police in armouredvehicles and a helicopter, held a two-hour rally in a soccerstadium near the platinum belt hub city of Rustenburg, 120 km(70 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, and were urged to fightfor their jobs.

The hastily arranged rally, held under a blazing sun andpunctuated by songs of labour struggle, was more subdued thanother protests over the past weeks where strikers brandishedmachetes and clubs, threatening to set fire to mine shafts.

Workers said the termination notice, delivered to many bySMS, caught them by surprise on Friday, despite repeated threatsfrom Amplats that it planned to discipline strikers.

"It just isn't fair. The company pays me little and I haveworked here for years," one of the sacked miners, who asked notto be named, told Reuters by phone.

Others told local media they would not give up the fight forhigher wages, even if that meant more violence.

Strike leaders said workers would stay off the job, makingsure Amplats' mines cannot extract ore.

"There will be no operations that will operate. An ordinaryworker is prepared to die for his own rights," one of the strikeleaders Evans Ramokga, told Reuters.

Ramokga said there had been secret talks to broker asettlement, but Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said she wouldnot "qualify that with a comment", adding "there has been noprogress".

RAND SLIDES

The sackings at Amplats (Anglo American Platinum)on Friday triggered a 4 percent fall to 3-1/2 year lows in SouthAfrica's rand as investors dumped the country's assets.

In a related move, Atlatsa Resources has sacked someof the 2,500 workers who went on a wildcat strike this week atits Bokoni platinum mine in South Africa, a company officialsaid on Saturday.

Bokoni, a joint venture with Anglo American Platinum, is torelease more details of the move on Monday. Workers have twodays to appeal the decision.

Each miner supports on average about eight to 10 people,often living in abject poverty, according to industry data. Thesackings could cut off income to more than 100,000 people.

Wage increases of up to 22 percent awarded to end a wildcatstrike at Lonmin's platinum mine last month have ledother workers to strike at other mines, car makers and municipalgovernments.

Zuma tried to reassure investors by saying this week thatsince the end of white-minority rule South Africans have shown"the capacity to overcome difficulties when we work together".

With an ANC leadership run-off looming in December, NelsonMandela's 100-year-old liberation movement is preoccupied withits own divisions. Zuma is seen as unlikely to take any actionthat could upset his political allies in the unions.

In a move that helped relieve some of the tension, severalhundred striking miners ended a three-day work stoppage at theSouth African operations of Petra Diamonds late onFriday.

"There was no deal. They just agreed to return to work,"Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for the powerful National Union ofMineworkers, said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Alison Williams)

((jon.herskovitz@thomsonreuters.com)(+27 11 775-3142)(ReutersMessaging: jon.herskovitz@thomsonreuters.com))

Keywords: SAFRICA STRIKES/