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South Africa

Public sector workers strike, threaten all-out stoppage

Reuters

South Africa’s 1.3 million public servants staged a one-day strike on Tuesday and threatened to launch an all-out stoppage if the government does not better its offer of a seven per cent wage rise.

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Thousands of workers marched peacefully in Pretoria and Cape Town today, leaving pupils untaught and hospital and police managing on skeleton staffs.

They’re demanding 8.6 per cent which is more than double the official inflation rate.

South African public servants believe their show of force in the country’s administrative and legislative capitals will persuade the government that it does not want its workers to down tools as they did in their extended strike in 2007.

That could erode the five-billion-euro bonanza the country earned with the football World Cup, where the workers stayed their hand, not wanting to jeopardise this competition.

Some other unions threatnened militant action during the World Cup. Power workers,who controlled the switches on the stadium floodlights, were rewarded with generous pay increases.

“We’re asking the government to give is a call now,” said Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. “Send us an SMS, give us a call, we’re ready to talk but make a substantial move … We will hate a situation where we’re forced to abandon classrooms and other places on Thursday.”

Negotiators were scheduled to meet late Tuesday.
 

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