big strike looms

PUBLIC sector unions have warned the government to "prepare for the worst strike ever" next week after wage talks failed to produce a settlement this week.

PUBLIC sector unions have warned the government to "prepare for the worst strike ever" next week after wage talks failed to produce a settlement this week.

The Independent Labour Caucus (ILC) said the government had "wasted everyone's time".

Unions affiliated to the Federation of Unions of SA and Cosatu met Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, of Social Development Edna Molewa and of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi on Wednesday in a bid to avert a looming public sector strike.

The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Soweto branch) will today hold a mass meeting at Orlando Communal Hall to discuss drawing in teachers to join the strike.

Regional secretary Ronald Nyathi said: "The World Cup is over and the government must start taking us seriously. If they don't they we will go on strike. We don't care even if there are less than 100 days before the matric exams, we want our needs to be met."

ILC chairperson Chris Klopper said Baloyi, who was leading the government delegation "wasted our time" by trying to "force us to take the offer".

"Instead of coming up with a better offer, the minister told labour to take up the offer on the table. We decided to close the meeting because there were no developments whatsoever."

The meeting was postponed to next week after Baloyi said he would go back to a mandating committee.

The unions declared a dispute after the state remained unshaken on its offer of a 6,5percent salary increase and a housing allowance from R500 to R620 a month.

The unions want an 8,6percent salary increase, a R1000 monthly housing allowance and the equalisation of medical aid subsidies.

The unions claim the government is "discriminating" against non-members of the Government Employees Medical Scheme.

A dispute was declared last month when the conciliator issued the unions with a certificate to strike.

Sadtu general secretary and negotiator Mugwena Maluleke said they would get a mandate from their members over the strike.

Baloyi's spokesperson Dumisani Nkwamba said the government would continue to "engage" unions until an agreement was reached.

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