Edson Ntsibande, a spokesperson for the General Industries Workers' Union of South Africa, said between 6 000 and 7 000 glass workers went on strike from 6am.The workers want an 8% across-the-board increase.The Glass Industries Employers' Association (GIEA) is offering 5% with a further 0,5% increase from January 1.
"The strike is a result of the failure to reach an agreement at the National Bargaining Council," Ntsibande said.
Other unions taking part in the strike are the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers' Unions, the South African Chemical Workers' Union and Solidarity.
The unions also want six months of fully paid maternity leave, overtime pay and five days of compassionate leave.
The companies affected by the strike include Consol Glass, Nampak Glass, PFG Glass, PG Glass and Owens Corning, where workers are holding sit-ins.
"The glass industry is not operating at all. The whole country is affected," Ntsibande said.
At the moment, there are no plans to meet the GIEA.
"Over the past years -- and in particular last year -- workers' wages and living standards have stagnated. We will stay on strike until we achieve what we are asking for," Ntsibande said