Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Wednesday, August 25, 1999 Published at 05:51 GMT 06:51 UK

World: Africa

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.

Cosatu President Willie Madisha: "Our members are very angry"
President Thabo Mbeki's main wage negotiator, Public Services Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, promised more talks within days.

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.

Pay demands

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.

BBC South Africa Correspondent Jeremy Vine: "The public reaction seems confused"
There were reports of some scuffles with police, but the atmosphere was mostly peaceful as protesters, including white public sector workers and off-duty police officers, marched through the capital.

Cape Town city centre came to a standstill as an estimated 10,000 protesters marched and danced in a sometimes chaotic protest.

United unions

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.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

16 Aug 99 | Africa
South African strikes set to spread

31 Jul 99 | Africa
SA pay strike escalates

06 Jul 99 | Africa
Gold sales will cost South Africa jobs

26 May 99 | South Africa elections
The overmighty ANC?

26 May 99 | South Africa elections
South Africa's economy: Much to be done

Internet Links

South African Post Office

South African Government

African National Congress


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

Sudan power struggle denied

Animal airlift planned for Congo

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Zimbabwe constitution: Just a bit of paper?

South African gays take centre stage

Nigeria's ruling party's convention

UN to return to Burundi

Bissau military hold fire

Nile basin agreement on water cooperation

Congo Brazzaville defends peace initiative

African Media Watch

Liberia names new army chief