A leader for the striking platinum mineworkers in South Africa says the decision by Anglo American Platinum to fire 12,000 workers is meaningless because the strikers will make it difficult for the company to hire anyone else.

Evans Ramokga threatened Saturday that Amplats would only hire new employees "over our dead bodies."

The world's top producer of platinum said it fired the workers for failing to attend disciplinary hearings in the aftermath of an unlawful strike that brought its Rustenburg operations to a halt.

The labor unrest plaguing South Africa's mining sector started in August when miners are Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine staged a wildcat strike that led to police shooting and killing 34 miners. That and other violence during Marikana mine strikes is now the subject of an official inquiry even as unrest spreads, leading to renewed fears of violence.