More than 5,000 workers at two platinum mines in South Africa have embarked on a strike, the Anglo America Platinum (Amplats) company announced on Monday.
The strike started at the Thembelani and Khuseleka platinum mines in the city of Rustenberg in the northern province of the North West, affecting the production on Sunday evening and Monday morning, said the Amplats in a statement.
The Amplats is the world's largest platinum producer, accounting for nearly 38 percent of the world's annual supply.
As the demonstration went on, miners protested the mine management for the suspension of 19 people who were punished for illegally taking part in a sit-in and demanded to proceed with the wage negotiations, according to the statement.
Those 19 people are members of the trade union Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
The protesters also demanded the company to offer a guarantee that the other trade union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) , would not be allowed to resume their work, said the statement.
On Friday, the largest South African trade federation -- the Congress of the South African Trade Union -- handed a memorandum to the mining employers in the North West province, urging them to end the "union-bashing" and reopen the NUM offices at the mines.
The strike came as the South African government, the mining sector and other related parties are seeking a new agreement to bring an end to the strike that has plagued the mining sector in the recent years.
In South Africa, the mining sector is one of the main drivers behind economic growth.
On Monday, the Amplats called for the protesting miners at the two mines to resume their operation as soon as possible, saying they should abide by the framework agreement brokered by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in the mining sector last week.
On August 16,2012, the strike at the Longmin's Marikana platinum mine in the same province resulted in a deadly shooting, leaving 34 miners killed and 78 others wounded. It became the bloodiest conflict between workers and police after apartheid ended in South Africa in 1994.