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Striking South African Workers to Respond to Latest Offer Monday

  • Peter Clottey

Civil servants workers protest outside the Natalaspruit hospital demanding better salary increases in Johannesburg, 18 Aug 2010, after the Unions rejected the government's offer

The spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) said, after days of consultations with public sector workers, the union will announce Monday whether to accept or reject the government’s pay raise offer.

Patrick Craven denied media reports the workers have lost public support due to violence associated with walkout that began 18th August.

“Consultations with union memberships continued right through Sunday. Obviously, I’m not at liberty to reveal what the contents of the statement will be,” he said.

President Jacob Zuma ordered ministers back to the negotiating table with striking workers after the public sector workers rejected the government’s latest offer.

Public sector workers, including teachers and nurses, have been protesting since the government rejected their demands for an 8.6 percent pay raise and a monthly housing increase allowance to 1,000 rand ($137). The government has offered to raise wages by 7 percent and increase the housing allowance to 700 rand.

Analysts say the ongoing strike has shut down schools, disrupted hospitals and undermined President Jacob Zuma’s support or labor unions.

Craven told VOA the striking workers still enjoy enormous public support for their demands.

“There is still overwhelming support for the strike particularly its basic demands. There has been a great deal of anger over the incidents which have taken place and the unions themselves have made it absolutely clear that they condemn acts of violence, intimidation and threats. But, that is really a separate issue as far as the main issue of very low salaries among staff public servants and very bad working conditions,” Craven said.

He also rejected claims that the government has no money saying that the administration has been hit by “wave after wave of scandals of wasteful expenditure and luxury accommodation for ministers and World Cup tickets (for) senior officials and expensive cars. There is an overwhelming feeling that that money ought to be spent on giving our public servants decent salaries for the very difficult work that they do.”