JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - About 2,000 South African mineworkers staged an underground sit-in at Northam Platinum's Dechaba mine, saying they will not leave until a fired union leader is reinstated.
South Africa's platinum producers are bracing for more work stoppages as the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and its rival the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) have threatened top producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin with strikes which could affect at least half of global output.
The country was hit by wildcat strikes last year which dented economic growth, led to a credit downgrade and saw dozens being killed in the turf war between AMCU and the NUM.
Seven thousand miners at Northam's Zondereinde operation affiliated to the NUM downed tools last week demanding wage increases of between 22 and 43 percent and a rise in housing allowances of 69 percent.
Northam, the world's No. 5 producer, has improved its initial offer twice and is offering increases of 7 to 8 percent in the first year, slightly above inflation at 6 percent.
"The sit-in started at 8 a.m. on Saturday and the workers are from different unions. It is not a strike, it is peaceful, but they are refusing to surface," police spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told Reuters.
(Reporting by Peroshni Govender; Editing by Louise Ireland)