South Africa police fire on picket

Civil servants' national strike for higher pay cause turmoil across the country.

    Public sector workers march through
    the streets of Cape Town [Reuters]

    Patrick Craven, the Cosatu spokesman, said: "Reports so far indicate a very, very good turnout."
     

    Cosatu, which represents about 60 per cent of the nation's nearly one million public servants, had aimed to shut down most public services in a wage dispute with the government.

    Anger

    Workers' anger was stoked recently by an official body's recommendation that Thabo Mbeki, the president, receive a 57 per cent pay rise.

    Unions have demanded a 12 per cent increase, while the government has proposed six per cent.

    "Fifty-seven per cent for fat cats and six per cent for poor hard workers. Shame on you," one placard brandished by a picketer at a Johannesburg hospital said.


    The government, seeking to keep a lid on inflation, boosted its offer on Wednesday to a 6.5 per cent to nine per cent increase, but talks have been acrimonious.

    Court order

     

    The government issued a statement reminding essential workers such as firemen, police officers and doctors that they were barred from striking and a court order banned immigration officers from joining the action.

    But hospitals appeared particularly hard hit by the strike, with nurses and cleaners picketing in Johannesburg and Cape Town over salary levels which see some nurses earning $640 a month.


    Danny Losaba, the union shop steward at Johannesburg General, said: "Today is the beginning of the strike. Until they reach an agreement, the hospital is going to run on half-staff."

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Assassinating Kim Jong-un could go so wrong

    Assassinating Kim Jong-un could go so wrong

    The many ways in which the assassination of the North Korean leader could lead to a total disaster.

    Lebanon has a racism problem

    Lebanon has a racism problem

    The problem of racism in Lebanon goes beyond xenophobic attitudes towards Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

    The life and death of Salman Rushdie, gentleman author

    The life and death of Salman Rushdie, gentleman author

    The man we call 'Salman Rushdie' today is not the brilliant author of the Satanic Verses, but a Picassoesque imposter.