Stop strike, pleads Azapo

2010-08-08 14:22

Johannesburg - The Azanian People's Organisation (Azapo) on Sunday called for government and all concerned parties to find an immediate resolution to the impending public servants strike, for the sake of the poor.

Azapo spokesperson Nonhlanhla Mqwathi said the nationwide strike, starting on Tuesday, would have a negative effect on the poor black majority who relied on the state for their well-being and services.

It would also have an effect on the education sector, especially matriculants who had been given an extended break during the World Cup.

Azapo said the demands of public servants were reasonable considering government had spent millions on world cup tickets, expensive vehicles for public officials and other non-essential items.

It said favourable wage settlements had been reached in the past between government and trade unions.

An example was the 2009 settlement between the South African Local Government Association and two municipal workers' trade unions.

Meanwhile, schools and hospitals were making contingency plans for the strike involving an estimated 1.3 million people employed in the public service.

The education department had asked members of school governing bodies to supervise pupils in the absence of teachers and the health department, though hoping a strike would be averted, would call on private hospitals and the military to help if necessary.

Education spokesperson Granville Whittle on Saturday said departmental teams had been organised across the country to monitor levels of intimidation and adherence to strike rules, with the police on standby if needed.

"There will be huge disruption of classes, especially for matric pupils who are writing their final exams in a few months time and this will have a negative effect [on] our attempts to turn the sector around," he said.

Earlier this week Education Minister Angie Motshekga urged
matriculants to keep studying during the strike period so that they don't fall behind.

"I call upon all learners, especially matriculants to remain focused on their studies."

The department also hoped many parents to organise study groups for their children, as they had done in similar situations in the past.

According to labour law, police officers and nurses are deemed essential services and are not allowed to strike.

The department of health was still hoping for a last minute settlement.

"If there is a strike we will try our level best to minimise the impact," said department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe.

To the question of consequences facing striking health workers he said: "We will cross that bridge when we get there".

The police said there was no indication that their members would be joining the strike.

"Our members are fully aware that they are an essential service and are not allowed to strike," said police spokesperson Colonel Vishnu Naidoo.

But, he added:  "There are always contingency plans in place."

Unions have indicated that they are still open to new offers.

More than 1.3 million public servants affiliated to the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Independent Labour Caucus (ILC) would down tools on Tuesday.

They have rejected the government's revised wage offer of a seven percent increase and a R630 housing allowance, as well as a 1.5% fixed pay progression.

They are aiming for an 8.6% wage increase and a R1 000 housing allowance, backdated to April 1.

The ILC confirmed that there were no scheduled talks between government and the unions on Saturday and Sunday.

"The next discussion will be on Tuesday evening and an assessment of the strike will happen on Friday morning," said spokesperson for the ILC, Chris Klopper.

National Cosatu spokesperson, Patrick Craven, said: "Talks can happen anytime".

He said that workers were expected to return to work on Wednesday and another strike may or may not occur depending on the evaluation made at the Friday morning talks.

- Sapa

  • vuyo mjola - 2010-08-08 15:29

    stop the strike. the matriculants will be the loosers. if you want to punish the ANC GOVTDONT VOTE THEM IN THE ELECTIONS. THAT WAY YOU HAVE GAINED THE UPPER HAND. the poor wil suffer. the pupils will be doomed again for their future and another year is wasted. MONEY TO LINE THE ELITE RICH MYOPIC TUNNEL VISION DICKHEADS IN PARLIAMNENT BUT NOTHING FOR THE NEEDY AND EDUCATORS. dont vote for the govt. they will be punished. use yr vote to NO VOTE FOR ANC.

  • Sub-zero - 2010-08-09 07:02

    I fail 2 c the comparison of engeneers and teachers cos dats wht sadtu is sayin dat dey want the same as eskom

  • Ngwato - 2010-08-10 16:00

    Actually who is the poor? Isn't a public servant?

  • Wizards of Oz - 2010-08-11 09:44

    @vuyo - you are 100% right a general strike will affect too many innocent victims and even if you get a settlement after a few days the damage done to the country's economy as a whole cannot be undone. Everey strike is a step backwards and has no winner. Rather get rid of the corrupt ANC governemnt in the next election and clean up the civil service form all the non-performing cadres. That way you will get service and aven have some cash spare for increases without having to strike!

  • queen - 2010-08-21 14:57

    the government is aware of the strike each year especially this time of yr.the put more pressure to the matriculates and after they blame teachers for poor perfomance of student.they made money during the world cup .

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