Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 16:08 UK

South African workers end strike

Worker march in central Johannesburg
Striking workers had demanded a 15% wage increase

A deal has been reached to end a week-long strike over pay by some 150,000 municipal workers in South Africa, union officials say.

They say they have agreed a pay rise of 13% - slightly less than they had been asking for but nearly double the 7% rate of annual inflation.

The strike meant rubbish was not collected, bus services did not run and local police forces were not working.

It was seen as a major challenge to President Jacob Zuma.

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"It's over... we signed an agreement this [Friday] afternoon," South African Municipal Workers' Union general secretary Mathandeki Nhlapo told the South African Press Association.

"Our workers will return to their posts on Monday," he said.

Recent industrial disputes have coincided with violent protests by township residents demanding that the government provide basic services such as housing, electricity and water.

Mr Zuma took power in May after an election campaign in which he pledged to ease poverty.

He was supported by the main union federation, Cosatu, and the South African Communist Party, which wanted a change in the previous administration's economic policies, which it said were too pro-business.

However, South Africa has since entered its first recession in 17 years, making it more difficult for Mr Zuma to increase state spending.

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