- Thousands of municipal workers across South Africa have entered into a weeklong strike that is expected to bring down services such as transport and cleaning of the streets.
The South African Municipal Workers Union and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union are demanding a pay rise that will see the lowest paid worker earn at least R3800 (about $480) per month, while also fighting for other benefits.
The unions have however promised to keep skeleton staff for essential services even though nurses, metro police, firemen and ambulance drivers were expected to join the strike.
The unions declared the strike after negotiations reportedly reached a deadlocked with employers’ representatives on Friday. The two unions are demanding an 15 percent and a 13 percent wage increase respectively, while the South African Local Government Association, which represents the employers, has offered across-the-board increases of 11,5 percent, with a promise for another 1,5 percent in January next year.
Rail operators are also expected to join the strike at midnight today, putting pressure on the three months government led by president Jacob Zuma, which has had to deal with protests against poor service delivery as well as one of the biggest strikes by doctors.
Several other sectors have threatened to go on strike demanding better pay.
In some of his latest appearances, Mr Zuma has promised that government would listen to the people's concerns and come up with ways to address the challenges, while also condemning violence that comes along the protests.
Mr Zuma said acknowledge that there were service delivery problems in some areas, saying government had already instituted some changes that should improve the way government functions and delivers.
Last year, the municipal workers in South Africa went on strikes that lasted nearly three weeks, leaving most of the cities and towns with piles of refuse lining the streets.
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