Johannesburg - Unions representing about 1 million South African public sector workers said on Friday they planned to stage a one-day strike on August 10 after rejecting the government's latest wage hike deal.
The government on Thursday raised its pay offer to civil servants to avert a strike that could cripple commerce in the continent's largest economy. It was quickly rejected by the union groups.
"On Tuesday there will be a massive stay-away where all the unions will take part," Manie de Clercq, a spokesperson for the Public Servants Association whose members downed tools last week, told Reuters.
Union officials said they had been in talks with the government and were hopeful a deal could be reached, but also said the one-day strike could be followed by a prolonged walkout.
Analysts expect more sparring in the days to come but believe a deal tilted in the unions' favour will be reached to head off a repeat of the mass action by civil servants three years ago that battered the economy.
The Public Service Ministry has said in a statement it was prepared to increase salaries by 7%, after previously offering 6.5%.
Union officials said the government had increased its offer of a R630 monthly housing allowance by R20.
Unions have been demanding a wage increase of 8.6% - double the current rate of inflation - and a housing allowance of R1 000, which would put pressure on the state budget.
The government says the combined demands amount to a rise of 9% and make it all but impossible to fulfil a commitment to bring the budget deficit down from 6.7 % of gross domestic product.
Spending on personnel is the largest sector of the budget.