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South Africa Facing Major Economic Shutdown as Health Workers are Sacked En Masse

South Africa could experience a total economic shutdown as some 2 million public servants take to the streets over an ongoing wage dispute . 'It's going to be a total shutdown tomorrow in public services and the economy. It's gonna be a massive strike involving marches in major cities and pickets outside government buildings,' said Willy Madisha, president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) labor federation had warned Tuesday.

The comment came after yet another deadlock in the wage dispute between government and striking unions affiliated to COSATU who have rejected the government's latest wage offer. The government's offer has increased from an inflation-linked 6 pct to 7.25 pct after a week of strikes which have crippled hospitals and schools around the country, while unions are holding out for 10 percent, above the rate of inflation which stands at around seven percent.

'We have unanimously decided not to agree to the reshuffling of the offer in the form of a proposal for a 7.25 percent wage increase for public servants which has been brokered by the mediators,' Madisha told reporters in Centurion, on the outskirts of the capital, Pretoria.

Meanwhile security in ports and jails was expected to be compromised as some soldiers and police officers joined in the strike. South African Police Union general secretary Les Maseng said some of their members would join the strike while soldiers, whose colleagues are being used as reserve labor in hospitals, would picket outside parliament.

Madisha said regardless of the 'unfortunate' situation they still hoped a solution would be found to end the impasse which started on June 1. But he said progress could be hampered by the government's decision to dismiss thousands of striking healthcare workers who refused to heed a court order to return to work last week.

Thousands of essential health professionals -- including doctors and nurses
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