Thousands of public sector workers in South Africa have embarked on a nationwide strike demanding better wages.
Tuesday’s “National Day of Action” comes after wage negotiations between trade unions and the government collapsed; the government offered a 3 percent pay hike, but unions are demanding 10 percent amid rising inflation.
The dispute between the government and its employees piles pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa, as he seeks re-election as leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.
Seven unions – representing about 800,000 public servants, including those working in hospitals, schools and police stations – are marching in eight of the country’s provinces. Last week, members promised to stage picket lines and demonstrations outside hospitals, ports and government offices in a “show of force”.
“With the rapidly increased cost of living … the government wants public servants to be at peace with less than inflation increases. This cannot stand,” the unions said in a joint statement last week.
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