Zuma calls for strike 'decency'

2010-08-28 14:02

Cape Town - Striking public servants should keep their protests within the limits of "basic human decency", President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday.

In his first public address since his return from a state visit to China, he said government respected the right of workers to go on strike in support of their demands.

"However, we reiterate that protest actions should be undertaken within the ambit of the law and basic human decency," Zuma said.

He was speaking in Cape Town at the official funeral service of former deputy safety and security minister Joe Matthews.

Zuma, who was criticised by some union leaders for going to China while SA was in turmoil as a result of the ongoing public service strike, said government would always defend workers' rights.

Caring government

Workers were the vanguard of the struggle for the improvement in the quality of life of all South Africans, particularly the poorest of the poor.

Government fully understood the frustrations caused by the legacy of low salaries and slow progression for some categories of workers, something the government had been addressing since 1994.

But workers' actions while on strike should not deviate from the commitment of government and public servants to be a caring government and a caring society.

"The abandonment of patients, including babies in incubators, as well as schoolchildren, is difficult to comprehend and accept, no matter how sympathetic one is to the needs of workers," Zuma said.

"We are confident that negotiators on both sides will find a solution soon, and help the country to get out of this unpleasant situation as quickly as possible."