June 13, 2011

Civil servants stay away after strike ends

Striking Botswana public service workers who were expected to end their eight-week strike failed to return to work and continued to protest. "Our members had not received the information that the strike had been called off. Tomorrow [Tuesday] everyone will be back at work because we are still spreading the message," said the unions' spokesperson Goretetse Kekgonegile.

Some workers who had gathered at the Gaborone senior school grounds said they did not agree with the union leaders' decision to suspend the strike, as they were not consulted. "How can we go back to work when some of our comrades that we started the strike with are now jobless? How can we go back to work for a mere 3% salary increase? This is an insult," said Tebogo, who works for the department of education. He said the union leaders had a big task to convince them to go back to work because they felt the strike was still on.

On Saturday, unions announced that the strike had been called off and workers were expected to start work on Monday. The decision was taken after the unions representing more than 90 000 workers accepted the government's 3% wage rise, a fraction of the 16% increase they had initially demanded. The strike closed down schools and disrupted services at clinics and hospitals, prompting the government to fire essential services workers who defied a court order to return to work. The dismissed employees have been told to re-apply for their jobs. (sapa)

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