S Africa municipal workers begin strike

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JOHANNESBURG, Oct 1 (Reuters) South African municipal workers began a strike in the country's financial heartland today to demand better pay and free transport services.

The South African Municipal Worker's Union (SAMWU) said metropolitan police, health department and fire brigade workers had launched the strike in Johannesburg.

''The City of Johannesburg bosses have bulldozed many systems through that SAMWU does not agree with,'' said SAMWU in a statement.

''The bosses have failed to meet us at the negotiating table to discuss these issues and now they will have to meet SAMWU strikers on the streets.'' Thousands of workers are expected to take part. Skeleton staff in essential services will not participate, SAMWU said.

The union said mass demonstrations would be held at the Johannesburg Civic Centre tomorrow and a memorandum would be handed over to municipal officials.

It will include calls for reinstatement of free bus passes for workers to travel to and from work and an end to performance management systems for workers, SAMWU said.

REUTERS SKB KN1815

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