SA state workers to give verdict on pay offer


South African public sector unions planned to announce whether they will accept a revised government wage offer or renew their threat of a mass strike they say will bring public services to a halt.

Analysts expect a deal to be reached before a coalition of unions, representing 1.3 million civil servants including police, customs officials, teachers and health workers, stages a prolonged stoppage.

Union officials have hinted they might reject the latest offer, which would increase pressure on the government to improve its terms or risk what could be the worst strike by state workers for three years.

Unions in the country’s largest labour umbrella group COSATU said they would hold a news conference to announce their decision at 11:45 a.m. (0945 GMT).

Economists worry that whatever deal is reached will swell state spending as the government tries to bring its deficit down from 6.7 percent of gross domestic product.

Last week the government offered to increase the monthly housing allowance to 700 rand from a previous offer of 630 rand, but refused to increase its wage rise offer of 7 percent.

The housing allowance alone would be equal to about 1 percent of government spending.

The unions are demanding an 8.6 percent pay rise, more than double the inflation rate, and 1,000 rand for housing.