South African president calls for talks to end nationwide civil servants' strike in 2nd week

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's president on Monday called on negotiators to resume talks aimed at ending a nationwide civil servants' strike for higher wages.

The country's largest trade union federation said Monday in a statement it hoped the strike can be settled quickly and welcomed the talks.

The sometimes violent strike is in its second week and has shut down public hospitals, left final-year students wondering when they will graduate and delayed court cases nationwide.

The union federation called for an end to violence. It also apologized Monday to President Jacob Zuma and other officials at whom protesting workers have hurled insults.

Independent Labor Caucus spokesman Chris Klopper said talks will start late Monday. Klopper said the minister of public service and administration invited unions to the meeting.

"We are not sure what they are coming up with, we hope they will table a better offer," said Klopper.

The government has offered a 7 percent wage increase and 700 rand ($96) for housing. The workers want 8.6 percent a 1,000 rand ($137) housing allowance.

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Associated Press writer Donna Bryson in Johannesburg contributed to this report.