S African workers strike over wages

Public sector unions say strike will continue if government fails to meet demands.

     Unions representing 1.3 million government workers backed the strike [AFP]

    Pay raise dispute

    Unions are calling for an 8.6 per cent pay hike, twice the current rate of inflation, and a 1,000 rand ($138) monthly housing allowance.

    The South African government is offering a seven per cent pay hike and 630 rand for housing.

    However, it is likely to raise its offer rather than risk a walk-out that could prompt a prolonged public sector strike reminiscent of a 2007 strike that dented the economy and damaged support for Zuma's predecessor.

    Experts predict the ruling African National Congress (ANC), in a long-standing alliance with Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP), will give in to the unions' demands.

    Tuesday's strike affected schools and public offices, but essential services such as police and hospitals were running, albeit on reduced staffing.

    A mid-grade public sector employee makes on average 8,800 rand a month in salary and benefits, above the national average wage of 6,383 rand, according to government figures.

    SOURCE: Agencies


     How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

    How Britain Destroyed the Palestinian Homeland

    Ninety-nine years since Balfour's "promise", Palestinians insist that their rights in Palestine cannot be dismissed.

    Afghan asylum seekers resort to sex work in Athens

    Afghan asylum seekers resort to sex work in Athens

    In the rundown Pedion Areos Park, older men walk slowly by young asylum seekers before agreeing on a price for sex.

    Profile: Osama bin Laden

    Profile: Osama bin Laden

    The story of a most-wanted fugitive and billionaire.