There’s been a third day of strikes by angry council workers in South Africa.
The strikers want the country’s president Jacob Zuma to fulfil pre-election promises to help the poor. Unemployment is rising – over four million are without jobs. Recession has hit the poor hardest. The Municipal Workers’ Union wants a fifteen per cent pay increase – the employers have offered thirteen. The peaceful protest in Johannesbrug was in contrast to Monday’s violent confrontation in Polokwane – one of many poor townships where anger flared about lack of healthcare, water and electricity. The workers demand better living wages. Police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse striking demonstrators after the protest began to turn violent. Gold and coal producers have already come to a deal with the unions. But economists warn that higher-than-inflation wage settlements could lead to future trouble for Africa’s biggest economy.