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Hopes of quick end dashed

By unknown | Jun 04, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Kingdom Mabuza, Vuyolwethu Sangotsha, Sne Masuku, Frank Maponya and Victor Hlungwani

Kingdom Mabuza, Vuyolwethu Sangotsha, Sne Masuku, Frank Maponya and Victor Hlungwani

Daggers are still drawn between government and public sector unions.

Hopes of a quick end to the crippling national strike were dashed at the weekend when most unions said "to hell" with the government's new offer of 6,5percent.

Cosatu president Willie Madisha told about 15000 strikers in Johannesburg on Friday, that the strike was "permanent" until government yielded to their demand for a 12percent increase .

"Until we get what we want, we are not going back to work," said Madisha.

Madisha said workers had rejected the government's revised offer.

He said unions would be prepared to return to the negotiating table only if government drastically improved its offer.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) secretary general Thulas Nxesi yesterday said he was not aware of any negotiations with government today.

"We have not been approached by government about a new offer. Instead the government chooses to speak to newspapers about its new offer," Nxesi said.

He said Minister for Public Service and Administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi was "ignorant" about the situation, after reports that she said school principals who went on strike on Friday would be dealt with.

"She does not understand the law - teachers and principals are not essential services. The strike continues and it's up to government to make an acceptable offer," said Nxesi.

Eastern Cape provincial chairman of Sadtu, Mzoleli Mtirara said workers had had enough of Fraser-Moleketi's antics.

"She has not shown any commitment," he said.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) secretary general Abbey Witbooi said the union's lawyers would contest the interdict barring its members from joining the strike.

"We respect the law, but there is anger among our members and I cannot confirm what action they might take," he said.

Striking public servants will assemble at their various branches throughout Gauteng and other provinces today for further briefing after last week's strike brought the country to a standstill.

General secretary of the Communist Party Blade Nzimande condemned government for making conditions favourable for big business by lowering the cost of trading, while the cost of living for workers remained high.

"Clearly the solution to your problems lies in striving for a socialist future," he said.

Addressing strikers at Simmonds Street, Johannesburg, Nzimande ordered strikers to repeat a song they sang when they welcomed him on stage, Lelizwe ngelama komanisi - "this country will be ruled by the communists".

Nzimande has been accused of leading a street revolution against the ruling ANC government - its alliance partner together with Cosatu.

Meanwhile, the National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) in KwaZulu-Natal is mobilising teachers and health-care workers.

The Limpopo Department of Health and Social Development claimed the nationwide strike had not affected its services.

However, most government institutions, especially schools, have remained closed due to the stay-away.

Most workers in the health department adhered to a call by MEC Seaparo Sekoati to report for duty because they rendered essential services.

Departmental spokesman Phuti Seloba said they were satisfied a large number of officials had heeded a call to ignore the strike and report for work.

"We have been monitoring the situation in all health institutions in the province and can proudly say that our officials were on duty on Friday," said Seloba.

He said they had also requested the help of the police to protect their officials.

Meanwhile, Cosatu in Limpopo had urged its striking members to go via their work places in the morning before attending rallies during the day.

Provincial Cosatu chairman Willie Mokwalakwala said rallies would be held at the SABC Park in Polokwane at 9am today and tomorrow.

A march will also be held on Wednesday to present a memorandum to Limpopo Premier Sello Moloto.


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