Determined unions
 
"We feel that 12 per cent is a realistic demand and we hope that the government will come to the table and we can compromise somewhere," Krister Van Rensburg, executive officer of the Federation of Unions of South Africa, told Al Jazeera.

"I am sure that in the period of great economic growth that we are witnessing now... the government can dig deeper into their pockets and spend some money"

Krister Van Rensburg, executive officer
of the Federation
of Unions of
South Africa
"I am sure that in the period of great economic growth that we are witnessing now... the government can dig deeper into their pockets and spend some money."

Fraser-Moleketi said the strikers' demands would mean the public service wage bill would reach "unsustainable" heights of 20 per cent of South Africa's gross domestic product.

"The ball is in the court of the unions at this point in time and we are waiting for them to come back and engage with the offer on the table," she said ahead of her budget speech in parliament.

"We are saying let's look at the package that's on the table and let's see whether there can be shifts in that package."

Tensions have increased in the five days since the beginning of the strike, with police using stun grenades and accusations that the union was forcing workers to stay off the job.

On Tuesday, the National Union of Mineworkers said it was consulting its 280,000 members on possible strike action, SABC radio said.
   
The South African Municipal Workers' Union is also discussing joining the stoppage, it said.