Labour unrest spread in South Africa on Monday with a strike by 15,000 workers stopping operations at a gold mine while few workers reported for duty in the fourth week of a stoppage at the Marikana platinum mine.
Gold Fields International said that thousands of its workers had walked out on strike on Sunday night and that senior managers were trying to find out what is wanted by miners at the west section of its KDC mine.
The east section of the mine was operating normally.
At a second platinum mine, Implats, 15,000-plus workers are demanding a 10 per cent pay rise, although they are continuing to work.
At the Marikana platinum mine, a Lonmin spokesman said that just 6 per cent of its 28,000 workers turned up today morning.
Mine buses drove around looking for workers to pick up, but the drivers returned to the mine with their vehicles empty.
Conflicting stories claim that either the strike is solid or that strikers have threatened to kill any miners who return to work before Lonmin agrees to their demands.
Hundreds of chanting miners descended on one of the mine shafts today, carrying traditional spears and sticks.
They marched past heavy detachments of armed police in riot gear, some in armoured cars, but the demonstration passed off peacefully.
Miners say that they are getting desperate and do not have enough money to feed their families.
Still, they said they remain resolute and will not return to work until their wage demand is met.
Lonmin had hoped many more miners would come to work since a peace accord was signed last week with three major unions.
But it was rejected by the breakaway AMCU union and some strikers who say they do not want to be represented by any union.
Half a dozen buses carrying mourners who had attended the last funerals in far-flung parts of the country of the miners who died in a hail of police bullets at the Marikana mine returned today to the shantytown of tin-walled shacks without water or electricity near the mine.