Picture: Timothy Bernard.

Johannesburg - The ongoing strike in the platinum mining belt is taking workers into poverty as it enters day 97, economist Mike Schussler said on Wednesday.

“It's ludicrous, you are taking people into poverty,” he said in Johannesburg presenting the 2014 Uasa South African Employment Report.

In other countries where people went on strike, unions had enough money available to pay striking workers the wages they lost while on strike.

In the case of the platinum strike, the union was currently paying striking workers less than R5 a month.

“You really are taking people into poverty,” he said.

“Not relative poverty but real poverty.”

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum, and Impala Platinum downed tools on January 23.

Schussler said about 70,000 people were on strike in the sector but this affected over 120,000 people directly.

“Every week this strike goes on, more people will be affected,” said Schussler.

In the past two years, eight million work days had been lost due to strikes.

“The strike does impact on the economy. It plays a big role on the confidence in the economy.”

Entry level workers had so far lost about R26,775 a person in wages alone and R5016 in benefits.

Schussler said it would be nearly impossible for the workers to recover from what they had lost. Mining production this year would also show a decline. - Sapa