South African public sector strike halted after 20 days
Unions representing South African public servants announced Monday they were suspending their 20-day old strike, which had paralysed public hospitals and schools.
Around 1.3 million civil servants will return to work while continuing to consider the government's offer of a 7.5-per-cent wage increase. The workers had been demanding 8.6 per cent.
The two sides had also disagreed on the amount of a housing allowance. The government is offering them 800 rand (112 dollars). The workers had demanded 1,000 rand.
"We are not calling off the strike. We are suspending the strike," Thobela Ntola, the president of the teachers union SADTU, said at a press conference in Pretoria.
The unions' move comes a week after the government submitted its fifth improved offer since the negotiations began in May.
Ntola said the workers needed another 21 days to consider the deal.
In the meantime, SADTU, the most militant of the unions, scored a major victory for its 200,000 or so members.
The government will not dock teachers for days missed during the strike, as it had threatened. Instead, the teachers will be allowed to make up the time in September.
The suspension of the strike extends a new lifeline to the sick.
The chairman of the South African Medical Association, Norman Mabasa, told the German Press Agency dpa he estimated "tens" of patients had died after being denied access to care or medication