S. African government, unions widen split over pay raises


June 14, 2007|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- A split between the South African government and labor unions deepened yesterday as thousands of striking public-sector workers rallied for a 10 percent pay raise, in a contest seen by many as a precursor to the struggle over who will succeed President Thabo Mbeki.

Hospitals, schools and transportation have been disrupted in a public-sector strike that has seen violence, as workers intimidated students taking exams and family members visiting the sick in hospitals.

There was a heavy police presence as tens of thousands protested in South Africa's major cities yesterday, with union leaders warning that the dispute was likely to drag on after rejecting the government's latest offer of a 7.25 percent wage increase.

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