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24 Jul 2009 16:10
South African municipal workers are to strike over wages from Monday, unions said, in a move that could hit public services when thousands of people have been protesting over poor housing and unemployment.
A chemical sector union was also on Friday considering an improved pay offer to end a separate strike, while transport workers at the national rail operator are to decide on Monday whether to take industrial action.
Africa’s biggest economy has been hit by a wave of strikes over wages during the salary negotiations season, as well as protests about poor services, increasing pressure on new President Jacob Zuma who rose to power with union backing.
The demonstrations have so far had little impact on markets, but analysts have warned that this could change if strike action continues and becomes more widespread.
Zuma, facing added pressure from unrest in townships, said police will move swiftly to crack down on rioters after violent protests erupted this week over poor services and jobs.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union, which say they represent 150 000 municipal workers, resolved to strike, after rejecting a proposal of an 11,5%increase.
“We can confirm the strike is going ahead on Monday. Both unions have a mandate to strike.
We will only rescind that strike call when there is any offer from management,” Samwu spokesperson Stephen Faulkner said.
He said union officials would meet Cooperative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka later in the day.
“We are hopeful there will be some outcome and we can then put that to our members early next week [but] the strike is definitely going ahead.”—Reuters
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