Wednesday, August 25, 1999 Published at 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK
South African strikers win more talks
Strikers march towards government buildings in Pretoria
The South African Government has promised to resume talks on public sector pay after tens of thousands of government employees held a one-day strike across the country.
Strike official Willie Madisha described the protest as "very successful".
The industrial action was the largest confrontation between organised labour and government since the end of apartheid, closing many schools and offices and leaving others with minimal staffing.
The strikers were demanding a 7.3% pay rise, in line with inflation.
This the government says it cannot afford and, after seven months of bitter negotiations, it is offering an average 6.3% increase.
An estimated 35,000 demonstrators gathered in the capital, Pretoria.
Cape Town city centre came to a standstill as an estimated 10,000 protesters marched and danced in a sometimes chaotic protest.
The mood of strike leaders is militant and some union members say they are willing to continue the strike action as long as is needed to force the government to meet their demands.
The action is the latest in a succession of labour protests in recent weeks.
More than 20,000 telephone and post office workers have only just returned to work, while since Friday, 10,000 coal miners have downed tools.
Old allies in conflict
The strike brings the government head-to-head with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), which mobilised mass protests against apartheid in the 1980s, and which retains a formal alliance with the ANC.
Cosatu says its dispute is with the government and not with the ANC, although the ANC overwhelmingly dominates government.
BBC Africa Correspondent Jeremy Vine says the government's move away from socialism is at the core of the disagreement with its traditional allies.
It poses a challenge to President Thabo Mbeki, who has his eye constantly on the perception of South Africa abroad, and who has shown he intends to run a well-disciplined economy.