Late-night bid to end strike

PUBLIC Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi's meeting with unions continued into late last night, as part of his bid to end the strike by government employees.

The parties were then expected to meet at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), department spokesperson Dumisani Nkwamba said.

"The minister is still in consultation with the unions, the PSCBC has not yet started," he said shortly before 9pm.

Baloyi expected civil servants to get back to work following the talks.

"The minister is determined to end the strike tonight."

The government did not reveal whether it intended tabling a new offer at the meeting.

"We just don't want to say anything at this stage," government spokesperson Themba Maseko said earlier.

"(Baloyi) has been consulting with union leaders with a view to finding a settlement," a statement read.

"Government is committed to finding a solution that is acceptable to all the parties. Such a solution will be tabled at the PSCBC for approval."

Yesterday President Jacob Zuma instructed the parties to get back around the negotiating table to find a way of ending the strike.

"The president gave a mandate to the ministers to immediately go back to the negotiating table," said his spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.

"This follows a meeting the president held with ministers over the weekend, which assessed the strike by public servants and its impact to the country as a whole."

Zuma expressed concern at the effect the strike was having on poor people who relied on public services such as hospitals, and at its effect on goals set to improve the declining matric pass rate.

The Independent Labour Caucus (ILC) hoped a "reasonable offer" would be made, its chairperson Chris Klopper said yesterday.

The ILC was "grateful" that sanity seemed to have prevailed "at long last".

The two-week-old strike has crippled many public hospitals and disrupted schooling.

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