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Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi has rejected government's 7,25percent wage offer, saying workers want "more money".
Vavi was speaking yesterday in Cape Town at the sixth congress of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), where the union's president, Zizamele Cebekhulu, threatened to join the strike if the striking workers' wage demands were not met. Popru represents almost two-third of workers in the prisons and over half of the workers in the police force.
Cebekhulu said Popcru would give government five days to improve their offer. If not, Popcru members would join the strike.
Vavi said the unions' door was open and that they were willing to settle.
"But forget about thinking that you can blackmail us into accepting peanuts. It's not going to happen. The 7,25percent that is rumoured to have been offered by government is not a substantial movement away from the 6percent and we will not accept it. Give us more money," said Vavi, to thunderous applause from Popcru delegates.
Interviewed just before his speech, Vavi refused to be drawn into discussing whether the unions would accept a 9percent wage offer from government.
Vavi also accused cabinet ministers of spreading propaganda because they want to win the "propaganda war against the unions" by talking of people dying at hospitals.
He said the health system was in crisis and that people had been dying at hospitals for years, but that all the "historic inefficiencies" in the public sector were being blamed on the strike.