News / Africa

S. African Construction, Airport Workers Widen Strikes

Striking members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) hold placards outside Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport, Aug. 26, 2013.
Striking members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) hold placards outside Johannesburg's O.R. Tambo International Airport, Aug. 26, 2013.
Reuters
South African construction and airport workers went on strike for higher wages on Monday, extending a series of industrial action threatening to slow growth in Africa's largest economy.
 
The labor unrest poses a risk for President Jacob Zuma's African National Congress as it heads into elections next year facing increasing criticism that it has not done enough to help the millions of unemployed and working poor almost 20 years after the end of white-minority apartheid rule.
 
The rand last week tumbled to a four-year low after gold miners last week threatened to strike and 30,000 workers in the car manufacturing sector, responsible for 6 percent of gross domestic product, walked off the job.
 
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said about 90,000 of its members in the construction sector planned to down tools on Monday. More than 50 percent of employers were affected by the labor action, industry group SAFCEC said in a statement.
 
Employment in the construction industry was at just over 1 million people at the end of June, according to government data.
 
The strike has grazed construction shares, with an index of top companies in the sector down about 0.7 percent since news broke last week of the walk-out, compared with a 1.2 percent rise in the broad All-Share index.
 
Firms affected by the strikes include Wilson Bayly Holmes Ovcon, Aveng Ltd. and Group Five Ltd.
 
Police reported clashes at a building project in Johannesburg's financial district of Sandton, where NUM members in the union's red T-shirts arrived at the site and forced workers to down tools.
 
“I am going to support the strike because I need more money,” said Luvo Joti who stopped work after NUM arrived.
 
The government called for speedy and peaceful resolutions to the various labor disputes.
 
More than 60 people have been killed in mining sector labor strife since last year, including 34 striking workers shot dead by police a year ago at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine.

Threat to economy
 
The NUM is demanding up to a 40 percent increase in pay and benefits for some workers while employers are offering a 7.5 percent rise, according to the industry group called the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC).
 
South Africa's central bank has said that inflation is projected to run at 5.9 percent in 2013 and wage settlements well above inflation could further threaten the fragile economy.
 
Some members of the SATAWU transport union also went on strike on Monday, staging a small picket at Johannesburg's main international airport in pursuit of a 12 percent wage increase.
 
The firm that runs all the country's major airports, Airports Company South Africa, said the strike had not affected any flights and it had contingency plans in place to ensure smooth operations.
 
Autoworkers with the NUMSA union met on Monday to consider a revised offer from employers of a 10 percent raise. NUMSA wants 14 percent and expects to reach a decision on Wednesday on whether to accept the new offer.
 
The car strike that started a week ago is costing the economy an estimated $60 million a day and hitting global producers including Toyota, Ford and BMW.
 
In the gold sector, NUM gave gold mining companies seven days on Saturday to meet its demand for pay increases of up to 60 percent or face strikes.
 
Major firms vulnerable to walkouts included AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony.
 
NUM, the main mining union, walked out of deadlocked wage talks with the companies last Wednesday, setting the scene for a gold industry shutdown that could cost over $35 million a day in lost output, based on current spot prices of the metal.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid