By Marshall Patsanza
Government school across South Africa are closed while teachers strike for higher pay:
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 26 (IPS) – South African teachers – along with other public service employees – have embarked on an indefinite strike over wages. The unions are demanding an 8.6 percent wage increase. Government says it cannot afford to offer 1.3 million striking public servants any more than seven percent.
With the school year already disrupted by an extended holiday imposed by the World Cup, and less than two months left before matric examinations – the final exams for high school students in South Africa – the strike could have a major impact on education in the country.
The strike affects government schools, with millions of children losing valuable classroom time; it also places strain on parents worried about who will care for children while they are out of school.
William Nxumalo, a Johannesburg high school teacher, told IPS that the government is letting children down, not teachers.
"If the government really cared about the matric students, they would have tried to meet our demands so that the children can be ready for the examinations at the end of the year," said Nxumalo.
Government's offer of a seven percent increase, plus a $95 housing allowance, falls short, say union officials who are holding out for an 8.6 percent wage increase and a 1,000 rand ($140) housing allowance.
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