Public servants get ready to march

2010-08-26 11:37

Johannesburg - Striking public servants were dancing in Johannesburg's streets ahead of a march on Thursday morning, on the ninth day of a strike which has severely disrupted schooling and hospital services.

"We want the government to come forward with an improved offer," said Monica Venter, the Public Servants Association provincial manager in Johannesburg.

"The reason why we are protesting is to show the government that the public servants are angry."

Blowing on vuvuzelas

In Johannesburg, hundreds of protesters, wearing yellow, black and red T-shirts, sang and danced in the streets while blowing on vuvuzelas and carrying sjamboks.

Some climbed into trees as more and more of their colleagues arrived, including health workers from Chris Hani-Baragwanath hospital in Soweto.

A placard read: "Zuma, borrow money from China for your civil servants."

Slogans on the T-shirts stated: "Stop exploitation of our nurses", and "Defending workers' rights".

A large police contingent was on the scene in Johannesburg's central business district, ahead of workers' march to the office of Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

A policeman said he was confident the march would proceed peacefully.

In Bloemfontein, protesters started gathering at Batho police station.

The metro police had closed all the roads ahead of their march.

Countrywide marches

The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) and Independent Labour Caucus were staging marches in cities countrywide on Thursday to push for an 8.6% salary increase and R1 000 monthly housing allowance.

The government is offering a seven percent salary increase and R700 housing allowance, excluding a 1.5% pay progression.

As 1.3 million union members stayed away from work, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) increased its support of hospitals

SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said 2 812 soldiers had been deployed to help out at 47 hospitals countrywide.

"We are getting more requests... mainly for doctors and nurses," he said.

"We have also brought in more soldiers to help keep the places clean and tidy."

Not only hospitals have been affected by the strike; many schools are closed throughout the country and several provincial education departments have postponed preliminary matric exams for two weeks.

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