Thousands of striking South African lorry drivers protested in central Johannesburg under the eyes of a heavy police presence today.
The drivers marched peacefully to submit a petition to the transport bargaining council for a 12 per cent pay rise, said the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union.
Union spokesman Vincent Masoga said it had an attendance of 15,000 drivers and their supporters.
But tension was widespread. In Cape Town a lorry was pelted with stones, causing it to overturn, and two other lorries were set on fire.
The protest is part of a wave of labour unrest which has seen strikes spreading from the Marikana platinum mine to gold, platinum and chrome mines and now to the transport sector.
Two of the world's top mining giants - disturbed at seeing their profits interrupted - toughened their line against their striking workers today, with one threatening to sack employees and the other warning of plant closures if stoppages continued.
Amplats ordered 26,000 workers to report for disciplinary hearings or face the sack.
And goldmining giant Anglo-Gold Ashanti warned strikers that it might be forced to scale down its operations if strike action continued.
Meanwhile, the commission investigating the killing of 34 miners at the Marikana mine by police continued its survey of the protest site, prior to the full opening of the public hearing tomorrow.
In September the Marikana strikers returned to work after accepting a pay increase of up to 22 per cent through negotiations that involved church leaders as mediators.
But two of South Africa's most powerful unions warned today that the Marikana settlement set a bad precedent for labour relations.
"Lonmin should have known that getting wage negotiations facilitated by the churches and allowing everybody, no matter their legal status, to play a role in the negotiations will create precedents that they will not be willing to repeat elsewhere," the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the National Union of Mineworkers said.
The unions said that wage demands can still be resolved through collective bargaining rather than "taking short cuts such as mass dismissals of workers."
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