S.Africa must borrow money to end strike

September 1, 2010 12:00 am

, JOHANNESBURG, Sep 1 – South Africa\’s government will have to borrow money to fund a compromise wage offer aimed at ending a crippling civil servants\’ strike, the country\’s public service minister said Wednesday.

The government\’s latest bid to end the 15-day-old strike would cost an extra seven billion rands (950 million dollars, 747 million euros), Public Service Minister Richard Baloyi told Business Day.

"Obviously, we will have to borrow the money. We dragged ourselves to this point," Baloyi told the newspaper.

The government upped its wage offer to workers after President Jacob Zuma on Monday ordered ministers back to the bargaining table in an effort to end the strike by public workers\’ unions, which has shut down schools and forced the military to send army medics to nearly 60 paralysed hospitals.

After fresh negotiations, the government announced a revised offer of a 7.5 percent wage increase and an 800-rand housing allowance, up from its previous offer of a seven percent raise and 700 rands for housing.

Unions, which are demanding an 8.6 percent increase and a 1,000-rand housing allowance, are meeting Wednesday to discuss the new offer.

South Africa currently spends almost 300 billion rands on wages for public employees.

The government has said it is straining to meet the workers\’ demands while addressing the growing demand for better access to basic services like water and electricity.



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