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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 June 2007, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
South African strike voices
Medical volunteers from the South African National Defence Force make hospital beds

South Africans share their experiences of the "solidarity" strike by public sector workers under way in the country after trade unions refused the government's revised pay rise offer.


I have not been to work for the past three days. On Friday we were warned by the union not to go to work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday... up till when the strike is resolved.

So I might not even go to work tomorrow.

The problem is that when you are at home, people watch you and tell you how they are fighting for you to get the 12% wage increase.

Striking South African public workers demonstrating
The unions are too powerful for their own good
Paul, Johannesburg

And so if you do go to work, you are betraying them.

And everyone around here knows me and that I work for the government and so if I was to go then I would face confrontation. Some of my neighbours would try to fight with me.

But if you don't go to work then you are in trouble also. We were told last week that if we strike then we risk being fired.

Whether you do or don't you are in trouble.

'Violence is not the answer'

It is really frustrating.

Honestly I believe that what they are striking for is reasonable. But not the way they are going about it. They should just sit down and talk about stuff.

Police officers during a workers march earlier this month
Security is tight amid reports of intimidation of non-strikers

Violence is not the answer.

A few taxis [mini-buses] are leaving Soweto today but you go at your own risk.

You pray to God that you don't run into trouble. I have seen other government workers hit by bricks, sjamboks [whips] - the violence is bad.

Mostly, the people going to work are those who are parents because they need the money for their children.

You have to decide if money is worth putting your life in danger.

I need the money because my family out-of-town depend on me and so I am going to have to find another way in the meantime.


Mrs Alice Brown:

My younger son is not going to have school on Wednesday because the school has been shut, and so he will be at home and require supervision.

Strikers in South Africa
Most schools and hospitals have been closed

Fortunately we have a domestic worker who will be able to provide adult supervision.

The other son, his school is not closed, but in a notice we received they said they will see how the day unfolds before they decide to shut the school.

I will be picketing in the morning and in the afternoon and attending the planned march to parliament.

What is going-on is a battle of wills between and the state and its employees. Clearly, the fact that the state has adopted the policy of no work, no pay means people will start to crumble now because half the month has gone, which means that half the salary will be gone as well.

It is a very difficult situation.

Tom Brown:

I am actually quite happy you know - no school, just sit around, read a book maybe, watch some TV and get down with a bit of homework.

It's quite nice! It is like a new weekend.

Alec Brown:

We are at school and so it doesn't really affect us because we're writing exams now. Very few teachers are striking at my school.

We are the lucky ones, because we can write our exams because our teachers are not on strike. The pupils like me, that live in the townships and go to school there, are unable to write their exams because their teachers are on strike.

They will have to redo their exams at a later stage. They are at a major loss.

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