Thousands of public workers in South Africa downed tools on Thursday in a nationwide strike over wages after talks with the government hit a deadlock — threatening to affect essential services.
The work stoppage was led by one of South Africa’s largest labour unions, the Public Servants Association, which has more than 235,000 members.
The wage stalemate between the government and its employees escalated after Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi last week declared he would unilaterally implement a three per cent increase across the board.
Unions want a 6.5 per cent hike.
Union members including nurses, immigration workers and some police officers picketed outside the Treasury office in Pretoria waving black placards reading “public servants are bleeding”.
The PSA had warned on Wednesday that the strike would “have a serious impact” on the home affairs, transport and border control departments.
It said the minister’s “irresponsible action has further damaged the already fragile relations and severe trust deficit” between the government and unions.