Johannesburg - Thousands of workers at fixed-line group Telkom began striking on Monday, according to the Communications Workers Union (CWU). This is the latest industrial action to hit the country despite recession.
The protest at Telkom, Africa's biggest fixed-line telephone operator, began only days after the end of a five-day strike by tens of thousands of council workers that saw rubbish pile up on the country's streets and key services paralysed.
The union, which represents 44 000 workers, said about 3 500 Telkom workers in four of SA's nine provinces began the two-day strike to push their demands for pay increases.
"We expect that quite a sizable number of our members will heed the call for a stayaway," CWU General-Secretary Gallant Roberts said.
"In the process some of the members in those provinces will also be picketing at some of the Telkom establishments."
The wave of strikes in South Africa have challenged President Jacob Zuma's economic policies over the past month, as the unions that helped bring him to power in April elections flexed their muscles, seeking a payback for their support.
Zuma is in a difficult position. He is indebted to unions that are a crucial part of his support base, but boosting government spending could worry foreign investors in the midst of South Africa's first recession since 1992.
To end the council strike, officials were forced to agree a 13% pay rise, just below the 15% demanded by the unions and almost double the inflation rate.
Further double-digit pay settlements in the private and public sectors would put added strain on Africa's biggest economy, compounding the impact of a 31.3% increase in electricity prices last month to drive inflation higher.
Pressure on the government has also come from poor township residents, who have demonstrated to back their demands for better living conditions for millions of blacks who still lack adequate housing, electricity and water 15 years after the end of apartheid.