South African public sector workers strike over pay

South African public sector workers strike over pay

Thousands of South African civil servants march through Pretoria  on 10 August 10 2010 on a one-day strike to press for better salaries
Public sector workers marched last week to hand over their demands

Public sector workers in South Africa have begun an indefinite strike after rejecting the government’s offer of a pay rise.
Unions affiliated with Cosatu, South Africa’s main union federation, have been holding out for an 8.6% rise, more than the latest government offer of 7%. Many schools and hospitals are expected to be affected by the protest.
Last week tens of thousands of public sector workers staged marches to hand over their demands. Police, teachers, doctors, and nurses are demanding an 8.6% pay hike and improved housing subsidies, the BBC’s Nomsa Maseko reports from South Africa.
They are also lobbying for a medical aid subsidy and night-shift allowance.

The government has increased its offer to 7%, but this has so far been rejected by unions, with negotiations continuing until late on Tuesday.
“From tomorrow there will be a total shutdown and the beginning of a protracted strike and we will only stop when government responds,” said Thobile Ntola, head of the SADTU teachers’ union.
Hundreds of thousands of state employees, including government office workers, could join the strike.
South African schools have already been hit by protests this week, and our correspondent says there have been reports of widespread intimidation and violence.
The government has been urging people to turn up to school, she says, but most pupils are expected to stay away on Wednesday having been told not to turn up by their teachers.
South Africa has been hit by a wave of strikes in recent years.
During the World Cup, hosted by South Africa in June and July, transport and power supply worker unions won pay rises after threatening to strike during the tournament.
Analysts say President Jacob Zuma, who owes his political support to South Africa’s powerful trade unions, is under pressure to appease them while also addressing the country’s budget deficit.

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