Civil servants' union calls strike in South Africa

Published August 18, 2010

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's civil servants' union has called a nationwide strike for higher wages, with protests getting off to a slow start.

The call from union leaders came late Tuesday, and Wednesday morning it appeared word was still spreading to workers.

The South African Democratic Teachers Union, the biggest union in the country's public sector, says all its 240,000 members left class early Wednesday to attend meetings to discuss the strike.

Unions are demanding an 8.6 percent wage increase and a 1,000 rand ($137) housing allowance. The government is offering 7 percent plus 700 rands($96) for housing. Public service minister Richard Baloyi says he can't afford more.

South Africa's public service strikes are often characterized by violent protests. A strike in 2007 lasted a month.

Written by Associated Press

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