Government offers final 7.5% wage deal, but public sector unions won’t budge

November 18, 2022 0 By Cypher9ja



Government has now offered public servants a wage deal of 7,5% amid threats from unions to stage an indefinite strike.

There has been a deadlock in wage negotiations between government and public sector unions, who have rejected the initial 3% wage hike.

Despite this, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana last month imposed the 3% wage hike in line with Section 5 of the Public Service Act, which allows government to enforce salary increases unilaterally, as long as doing so does not reduce wages and benefits.

‘Same predicament’

While the unions have demanded a 10% increase across the board, government has put its final offer on the table, comprising of 3% pensionable and 4.5% non-pensionable funds.

According to the Department of Public Service and Administration, the final offer will come at a cost of R34 billion to the fiscus for the 2022/2023 financial year.

“The government effected the final offer after the Minister of Finance advised that had the 2022 medium term budget policy statement [MTBPS] been tabled without the offer being effected, it would have been lost, requiring that we wait for next financial year with no guarantees of whether the money will still be made available in the budget or not,” the department said in a statement on Friday.

The department has called on the unions to return to the negotiating table in order to resolve all disputes.

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“If we fail to reconvene and agree on a new agreement to engage and settle the matter of wages, we are likely to find ourselves in the same predicament where the budget tabled by the Minister of Finance will inform the limits for the wage negotiations and not the other way around as it should be.”

Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele on Friday also urged the unions to continue the negotiations at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) to sustain economic recovery.

“Our economy is struggling as we speak… it keeps trying to emerge, [but] gets undermined by the situation at Eskom. [So] any attempt to work has got a huge impact for the economy,” he said during a press conference.

“My attitude is that it undermines the very conditions from which we can improve so that at a later stage we find one other with the workers. Having said that I strongly encourage the workers to continue to engage with relevant ministers and we hope all these things have a solution on the table.”

Strike

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), however, says the government’s wage offer of 7.5% was misleading.

On Thursday, Cosatu – alongside the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) – have confirmed that their members will embark on a national day of action across all provinces on 22 November.

Their affiliate unions will also continue with picket demonstrations across critical service centres like public hospitals, ports and government institutions.

The trade union federations, representing more than 700 000 workers in the public sector, have argued that their fight was not only for the cost-of-living adjustment, but also for the protection of collective bargaining.

Last week, the Public Servants Association (PSA) embarked on a national strike over the wage impasse.

The PSA represents 235 000 members in the public sector and is demanding 6.5% in wage increases.

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