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On strike since Marikana Massacre, hungry workers cut production of world’s platinum by nearly half

May 27, 2014

Those waging South Africa’s longest and costliest strike say they won’t give up

by Skyler Reid

Thousands of miners gather in Marikana to hear AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa say the union would accept the government’s offer to mediate on wage talks. However, he said the strikes would continue until their demands were met. “This demand is to give our children a better future. There is no turning back. Our brothers’ blood was spilt for this R12,500 ($1,196). We can’t betray them now,” he said. – Photo: City Press

Thousands of miners gather in Marikana to hear AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa say the union would accept the government’s offer to mediate on wage talks. However, he said the strikes would continue until their demands were met. “This demand is to give our children a better future. There is no turning back. Our brothers’ blood was spilt for this R12,500 ($1,196). We can’t betray them now,” he said. – Photo: City Press

Marikana, South Africa – Nomfanelo Jali stirs porridge she hopes will quell her children’s chronic hunger. Food has been scarce since her husband joined 80,000 workers on strike with South Africa’s main mineworkers’ union, AMCU.

“It’s very difficult,” Jali said. “None of us has got food.”

The strike, now four months long, is the longest – and costliest – in the nation’s history. Platinum production in the country accounts for 40 percent of the global market, and the work stoppage has pushed up the price of the metal worldwide.

But workers say they’re determined to hold out until they get the raise they’re asking for – more than double what they currently earn.

Skyler Reid is a Freelance photographer and journalist based in the Johannesburg area of South Africa. His goal is to find new ways to make people interested in news stories, by introducing characters and narratives that can capture the interest of those who are turned off by the basic news formula. He can be reached via Twitter @skyreid. This story and video first appeared on GlobalPost.

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