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Diamond miners strike in Cullinan

Workers at one of South Africa's oldest and best known diamond mines have embarked on an illegal strike and are demanding a salary of R12,500.

Around 1800 workers of the Petra mine near Cullinan, east of Pretoria, announced their strike at 6pm on Tuesday, Beeld reported.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the miners' official union, is not backing the strike, but it is still obligated to represent the striking workers, according to union representative Tebogo Mpahlele.

He said the NUM represented nearly 1200 workers.

Operations at the mine have ground to a halt, as nobody arrived for work on Wednesday.

The mine garnered international fame when it produced the 3106 carat Cullinan diamond in 1905.

More than 750 diamonds larger that 100 carats have been excavated at Petra, and it is the world's most notable producer of rare, sought after blue diamonds.

The mine's spokesman, Gert Klopper, said it was an unprotected strike, but the employer was in talks with NUM.

Klopper said it was in conflict with mine policy to discuss labour matters publicly. - Sapa

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