Strike leaders urged thousands of club-wielding South African mine workers to peacefully continue striking in the face of a deadline to return to the underground mines Wednesday.
The platinum mine workers were told by Joseph Mathunjwa, who leads the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, to “remain steadfast and be peaceful,” AFP reports—even as armored police vehicles and a helicopter circled the area. The police warned they would not tolerate intimidation of workers who want to return to the mines.
The strike at the world’s third-biggest platinum mine began in January, when more than 80,000 members of the miners union demanded a salary of 12,500 rand (about $1,200), or more than double their current wages.
A standoff between rival unions in 2012 led to the deaths of 34 strikers after police opened fire on a crowd.