S African court stops health workers from striking

Health workers are considered essential employees and not allowed to strike.

Johannesburg: A South African court prevented workers who are employed in essential services from participating in the public servants strike, officials said.

"Government welcomes the decision by the Labour Court this morning to grant the state an interdict prohibiting essential services workers from striking," said government spokesman Themba Maseko.

On Wednesday, some 1.3 million civil servants embarked on a nationwide strike over pay.

The strike has halted learning, and left some patients unattended at hospital.

Health workers are considered essential employees and not allowed to strike, but some nurses have joined the wildcat strike, even intimidating volunteers who have stepped in to help patients.

"Further, the interdict also prevents workers from participating in unlawful acts such as intimidation, assault, molesting, victimisation of non-striking public service employees and members of the public," said Maseko in a statement.

The government described the conduct of some of the striking workers as unacceptable, saying it undermined the rights of citizens who are not part of the strike.

During his speech at a public gathering on Saturday, President Jacob Zuma said the strike would tarnish the image of the country.

Zuma said that even during the campaigns against the apartheid government nurses were not prevented from going to work.

Public unions have rejected the government`s seven percent wage increase offer and are demanding 8.6 percent and a monthly housing allowance of 1,000 rands (USD 137, EUR 107).

Bureau Report

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