A street money changer counts South African Rands in Harare, Zimbabwe, May 5, 2016. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

Hundreds of thousands of civil servants in South Africa have embarked on a nationwide strike over wages and working conditions.

Local media have described it as the first major strike by public servants in the decade.

It is expected to cause disruptions in some government departments and airports.

Members of the Public Servants’ Association (PSA) had for weeks staged lunchtime pickets, but have now decided on a full-scale shutdown in major cities across South Africa.

South Africa civil servants go on strike over wages
South African bank notes featuring an image of former South African President Nelson Mandela are displayed at an office in Johannesburg, file. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

It follows a breakdown in negotiations between the union and the government.

The union is holding firm on its demand for a 6% increase in wages, rejecting the government’s final offer of 3%.

Services such as the issuing of passports, death certificates and driver’s licenses will be affected.

Meanwhile, airport authorities have warned that the industrial action may cause delays at passport control and have warned travellers to arrive for their flights at least four hours before departure time.

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