Union calls off S.African municipal workers strike

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South African municipal workers on Tuesday called off a 16-day nationwide strike without reaching an agreement with employers, their union said.

"The national wage strike (is) called off with effect from Monday, August 29, and the provincial leadership must... brief the membership about the (decision)," South African Municipal Workers' Union spokesman Tahir Sema said in a statement.

The union, which represents nearly 200,000 workers, said it would continue negotiating with the employer body, the South African Local Government Association.

"Negotiations with the employer body aimed at concluding a decent wage increase for workers... must continue," said Sema.

Garbage collectors and bus drivers walked off the job on August 15, demanding an 18-percent or 2,000-rand ($276, 193-euro) raise, more than three times the July inflation rate of 5.3 percent.

Management offered them six percent.

Last week the union downgraded its demands to a 10-percent wage hike, but Sema said negotiators had been unable to strike a deal with employers.

The two-and-a-half-week strike was marred by violence and intimidation in some cities such as Cape Town and Durban, resulting in some protesters being arrested and the municipalities obtaining court interdicts to stop the stayaway.

The mid-year winter months are known as "strike season" in South Africa, where contract negotiations take place around the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

This year there have been strikes in several major industries, including coal and gold mining, oil refineries and engineering.

All ended in similar deals of seven- to 10-percent raises after starting with demands for double-digit increases.

© 2011 AFP

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