South Africa's government is up in arms literally and figuratively over the latest strike by public servants, who are striking for better wages and the fulfillment of a 2003 agreement. Teachers and nurses have walked off the job, placing students who are supposed to be taking the "matric" in jeopardy. The "matric" is South Africa's standardized test that determines which students meet minimum requirements for admission to the public university system. There have been reports that babies have been left alone and patients have died in hospitals in Gauteng because of the strike. Approximately 2,400 soldiers have been deployed to assist at struggling hospitals. The African National Congress (ANC) has condemned acts of violence and intimidation by striking workers. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COATSU) and other union groups are demanding an 8.5 percent salary increase and R1 000 monthly housing allowance, and have rejected the government's offer of 7 percent salary increase and a R700 housing allowance. This is the second public servants' strike in the last three years. Unfortunately, schoolchildren and sick people are stuck in the middle of it.
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