Public servants put off strike to mull new offer

Public workers on Friday put off a threatened national strike, saying they would consult on a new wage offer from the government.

During wage talks late on Thursday, the government increased its offer on housing allowances to R700, up from R630, while keeping its proposed 7% wage increase.

Unions are demanding an 8,6% increase and a R1 000 housing allowance.

Unions had threatened to launch an indefinite national strike on Thursday, but they said in a statement that they would consult with their members before taking a decision.

“We recognise the increase from the employer but we still feel it is a long way from our initial demands,” public-service unions said in a joint statement.

“We recognise the slight progress that has been made and will now take the employer’s revised offer to our members for consultation from today [Friday] until Monday.”

The unions said they would meet on Tuesday to review the response from their members.

A one-day strike on August 10 was only partially observed. The government has insisted it cannot meet the unions’ demands without trimming public services, amid fierce public pressure to expand access to water and electricity.

The ruling African National Congress is looking to avoid a repeat of 2007, when hundreds of thousands of public workers staged a crippling four-week strike.—AFP

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