More workers joined in a strike in the platinum sector as the industrial action entered into its eighth week, a labor union said on Monday.
"The strike continues. The number of workers on strike has increased," said Evans Ramokga, coordinator of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which organized the strike. Ramokga refuted reports that workers wanted to return to work.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) said last week that it had been inundated with calls from striking workers who wanted to return to work but they feared for their safety, as there was a lot of violence in the area.
"No one reported for work today Monday. I have been going around the mine to check following allegation that workers intend to return to work. I can confirm no one has abandoned the strike. The workers are determined to fight for a living wage," Ramokga said.
Talks aimed at ending the strike were suspended indefinitely early this month after both AMCU and platinum companies failed to find common ground.
The talks had been on and off since Jan. 24, one day after AMCU members downed tools over wage demands at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), Impala Platinum and Lonmin Platinum.
AMCU wanted basic salaries of 12,500 rands (about 1,136 U.S. dollars) a month, a demand rejected by the companies. Later, the union revised its demand, agreeing to a gradual realization of the demand in a period of four years.
But the companies again denied the revised demand which they said "translates into an average annual increase of 29 percent and remains unaffordable."
The strike is dragging on amid reports of intimidation and attacks against non-striking workers despite a pledge by AMCU to stay away from violence.
COSATU has urged President Jacob Zuma to declare a state of emergency in the mining sector.
Earlier this month, AMCU presented a petition of grievances to the government, calling for government intervention in pressuring the companies to accept the workers' demand. Zuma was given until March 20 to respond to the petition.
The strike has brought the world's platinum production to a near standstill.
As of 17:30 p.m. on Monday, the combined losses suffered by the three companies stood at more than 8.8 billion rands, and employees' earnings loss stood at more than 3.9 billion rands.
The companies are presenting the losses on the website www. platinumwagenegotiations.co.za, with figures on lost revenue and employees' lost earnings changing every second.