South Africa strikes get uglier

South
African union leaders have threatened to call a nationwide strike across all
sectors of the economy in support of public workers, whose pay dispute is in
its tenth day.

“Everything
will come to a standstill,” said Zwelinzima Vavi, head of the main union
federation, Cosatu.

Some
one million civil servants are already on strike but Cosatu’s total affiliated
membership is double that.

Mr
Vavi said work would also halt in the key mining and manufacturing industries,
while unions representing the police and the military have already said they
will join in the stoppage.

Cosatu
is officially an ally of the governing African National Congress but Mr Vavi
warned that their alliance was now “dysfunctional”.

A
court has, however, barred police officers from joining the strike. Officers
who went on strike could be fired, police said.

A
previous court injunction ordered the unions to keep essential services going.
Workers want an 8.6 per cent pay rise, and are angry the government offered 7
per cent.

The
protesters have been angered by recent newspaper stories of corruption and
lavish spending by ministers.

The
government says it cannot afford to deliver wage increases that amount to twice
the rate of inflation.

Despite
the threat to strike, police officers were monitoring the protesters in
Johannesburg in case of any trouble.

The
police have previously been involved in violent clashes with some strikers and
have fired rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas at the protesters.

Last
weekend, another court ordered the unions not to disrupt emergency services.

Military
doctors have been deployed around the country to keep hospitals open, but the
South African Security Forces Union has asked the government to resolve the
dispute quickly, saying that the military should not be used for substitute
labour.

0
0

NO COMMENTS