Over 80,000 South African platinum workers put down their tools Thursday in a massive strike that has already disrupted mines responsible for half the world’s production of the metal.
Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) withheld labor from the top three producers of platinum — Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin — in what they say is an indefinite strike until their demands are met.
“This is a revolution of the economy of South Africa, to benefit all who live in it,” AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters following a mass protest at a football stadium, Reuters reports.
The AMCU, which is the largest representative of platinum mine workers in South Africa, is demanding what it calls a “living wage” of 12,500 rand (1,150 U.S. dollars) a month — double the current monthly minimum wage.
South Africa’s platinum mining industry, which accounts for 70 percent of global production, is notorious for its low pay and dangerous working conditions.
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