JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The South African government and unions representing 1.3 million striking state workers plan talks Monday night following President Jacob Zuma’s order to ministers to negotiate immediately to end the walkout.
Union officials hoped Zuma’s call and the negotiations will lead to an improved offer to end the labor dispute that has closed schools, prevented treatment at hospitals and harmed investors sentiment toward Africa’s largest economy.
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 26 (Reuters) – South Africa’s top labour federation COSATU threatened on Thursday to sever its long-standing alliance with the ruling African National Congress and widen a state workers’ strike next week to key industries.
Thousands of striking state workers held marches in major cities nationwide calling on the government to end a strike by about 1.3 million of its unionised employees that has shut schools and cut off medical treatment at hospital.
"The alliance is unable to convene a summit for fear of an implosion as a result of fundamental differences on the question of where power lies," COSATU Secretary-General Zwelinzima Vavi said in a statement from the group that says it has 2 million members.
"The alliance is again dysfunctional; the centre cannot hold," he said in the statement read to reporters.
The comments are some of the strongest indications that organised labour, which helped President Jacob Zuma ascend to the presidency, may be willing to cut a relationship with the ANC forged in their struggle to end apartheid.
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The state workers’ strike has had no major impact on rand and bond trading but market players said worries would mount if it extended to September and was joined by other labour groups.
COSATU said it filed 7-day strike notices on Thursday so all its members could join the state workers in a strike they said would then hit mining and manufacturing, grinding the country to a halt. [ID:nLDE67N1QK]
Several hundred thousand COSATU members are already taking part in the state workers’ strike.
The leader of the ANC’s Youth League Julius Malema also fired what amounted to a warning shot at Zuma on Wednesday night, questioning his leadership and implying the ruling party’s youth wing will not support Zuma for a re-election bid.
The government has said it cannot afford the state workers’ demand of an 8.6 percent wage rise, more than double the inflation rate, and 1,000 rand ($136) a month as a housing allowance. It has offered 7 percent and 700 rand.
The lowest-paid public servants make 40 percent less than the average worker, who earns 6,383 rand a month in salary and benefits. Mid-range public servants make about 40 percent more than average.
Any agreement to end the dispute is likely to swell state spending by about 1 to 2 percent, forcing the government to find new funds just as it tries to bring down a deficit totalling 6.7 percent of gross domestic product.
An expanded strike would add to worries about prospects for growth after the economy slowed more than expected in the second quarter of 2010 as mining contracted, while expansion in manufacturing was lower than before. [ID:nLDE67N0VV]
In Johannesburg’s Soweto township, where police have clashed with strikers trying to block entrance to a hospital, the anger was building at the government for not reaching a deal and at strikers who were denying services to the poor who rely on their help.
"We work for the government and we live in shacks," said one healthcare worker who only identified himself as Joseph. (Editing by Marius Bosch)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s government and unions are facing increased pressure to end a nearly week-long state workers’ strike from a public angry at the mounting impact the stoppage has had on the poor.
The strike by about 1.3 million state workers including nurses, teachers and clerks, has shut schools, delayed treatment at hospitals and the delivery of other services to those who have no other alternative than seek government help.
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 18 (Reuters) – South Africa’s largest
trade union federation has called on the government to reverse a
multi-billion rand empowerment deal in mining that has raised
criticism at home and worried investors abroad.
The request from COSATU adds to calls for more transparency
in deals which are designed to expand opportunities for the
country’s black majority.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s largest opposition party said Saturday it would merge with a small party to better challenge the ruling African National Congress in the 2014 election.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) and the small Independent Democrats (ID) said they hoped their new alliance would capitalize on growing frustrations with the ANC over crime and the provision of education, health care and electricity.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African police found four bullet-riddled bodies in an unused shaft of a mine belonging to relatives of Nelson Mandela and President Jacob Zuma, an officer said on Thursday.
Police told reporters they believed the men were illegally prospecting for gold in abandoned shafts at the Grootvlei mine outside Johannesburg.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – President Jacob Zuma called on Thursday for “calm and unity” after reports African migrants were fleeing South Africa for fear of fresh xenophobic violence after the close of the World Cup soccer tournament.
A previous spate of anti-foreigner attacks in 2008 cut into investor confidence and another wave could weaken Zuma and mar the country’s image after its successful hosting of the Cup.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s success in hosting the soccer World Cup has made life more difficult for President Jacob Zuma by raising expectations his government can meet a series of unfulfilled promises in the same bold fashion.
After his government has shown it can deliver all that was needed to host the month-long sporting event, the public now wants Zuma to show the same resolve in dealing with the problems that have lingered since the end of apartheid 16 years ago — unemployment, poverty and a woeful education system.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African police and the military have been deployed in several townships due to growing threats against foreign migrant workers and protests about squalid living conditions, police said on Monday.
Signs of social instability could harm South Africa’s image and investor sentiment, undoing gains achieved by hosting the successful soccer World Cup tournament that ended on Sunday.
PRETORIA, July 9 (Reuters) – South Africa and Brazil pledged
on Friday to deepen trade and commercial ties in another sign of
emerging countries gradually shifting their economic dependence
away from rich nations.
At the end of a six-country tour of Africa — his 12th trip
to the continent — Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva
told South African counterpart Jacob Zuma that developing
economies had to tear down barriers to trade.