Miners in South Africa plan to join the massive public sector strike that has already crippled the the government in recent weeks.
The National Union of Mineworkers said Friday it will join the public sector strike next week if the government does not meet the demands of strikers who want more money.
"We are angry that whilst those who are privileged have children go to school overseas; our children have turned into street kids," the union said in a statement. "The NUM fully supports the public sector strike and would next week Thursday ensure that every mining operation, every construction site and every energy worker joins the public sector strike in different forms."
Industrial unrest has hit South Africa several times during the past few weeks as striking public sector workers have halted services across the country, including at schools and hospitals. Employees have called for wage rises of more than eight percent and 1,000 rand housing allowances as part of their demands. The government is offering a seven per cent pay hike and 630 rand for housing.
But the government says it cannot afford to meet workers' demands and has ordered military doctors and nurses into dozens of hospitals to protect vulnerable members of society.
South Africa has been hit hard by the global recession, losing 900,000 jobs last year on top of already high unemployment.
South African labour unions have said that they will cut ties with the ruling party, and widen a national public sector strike, unless their pay demands are met. The labour unions were key supporters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and Jacob Zuma, the country's president, helping him win the last election.
The latest comments by union leaders were some of the strongest signals to date that organised labour may be ready to cut, or change, its relationship with the ANC that was forged in the struggle to end apartheid.
Striking workers have rallied in South Africa's main cities and towns, including the capital Pretoria, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal and the North West Province among others.