Saturday, June 30, 2007

South African Strike Ends

Crippling four-week strike in South Africa ends

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) -- South African public sector unions agreed a wage deal with the government on Thursday, ending a four-week strike that exposed sharp political divisions between the ruling ANC and its labor allies.

"The public service trade unions, after full consultation with their membership, have unanimously agreed to call off the strike action which began on 1 June, 2007," said a statement issued by the umbrella COSATU labor federation.

The decision eased pressure on the ANC leadership, which is holding a policy conference expected to provide hints on a bitter succession race ahead of a December congress that will choose a new party leader.

The protest saw some 600,000 teachers, nurses and other civil servants walk off the job on June 1 to push for a 12 percent pay hike in one of the largest industrial actions since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Angry union members marched through major cities in demonstrations of labour's power, while many schools closed due to teacher walkouts and public hospitals operated with skeleton staffing.

Unions accuse President Thabo Mbeki of abandoning the poor through his pro-business policies. South Africa's economy is booming but civil servants have complained their wages can barely keep up with rising prices.


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