* Strike over jobs began last Friday
* Police say rubber bullets fired at strikers Tuesday
* Main platinum wage talks just getting off ground
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Talks will resume on Thursday to seek an end to a strike that has brought to a standstill most of the operations of South Africa's Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), the head of the union behind the stoppage said on Wednesday.
Workers downed tools last Friday in protest at Amplats' plans to cut 4,800 jobs as the world's largest platinum producer and unit of Anglo American strives to restore profits. The company has already backed down from an initial target of 14,000 job cuts.
"The strike is continuing. We had marathon meetings with the employer last night and will have another tomorrow and I believe that meeting should get us closer," Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), told Reuters.
A company spokeswoman confirmed the talks would resume on Thursday morning.
The stoppage has been generally peaceful but police said on Wednesday rubber bullets had been fired the previous day to disperse a group of strikers who were taking part in an illegal march near Amplats' Tumela mine in northern Limpopo province.
"The crowd had to be dispersed and rubber bullets were fired. You cannot hold a march without permission in advance," Limpopo provincial police spokeswoman Ronel Otto told Reuters. She said four of the marchers had been arrested.
On the talks, Mathunjwa said AMCU wanted the company to provide voluntary separation packages for older miners near retirement and spare the jobs of younger workers, which the union says will bear the brunt of the lay-offs. Much of AMCU's membership in the platinum belt consists of younger miners.
AMCU emerged as the dominant union in the platinum shafts last year after poaching tens of thousands of members from the once unrivaled National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), in a bloody turf war in which dozens were killed and which resulted in a wave of violent wildcat strikes.
Amplats suffered its first loss last year, partly because of illegal strikes, and the company has warned that the current action could put more jobs at risk.
Aside from Tuesday's incident, there have been no other reports of violence, a contrast with last year's mayhem when wildcat strikers brandished machetes and police shot dead 34 workers in a single incident at the Marikana mine run by platinum producer Lonmin.
This AMCU stoppage is also legal, in keeping with a change of tactics by the union as it grows and matures.