Johannesburg - Government remained committed to finding a solution to the public service wage dispute, Deputy Public Service and Administration Minister Roy Padayachie said on Tuesday.
Speaking in the National Assembly, he said government was making "extremely strenuous efforts" to meet the demands made by the public sector workers on the state.
"We are in the midst of trying to finalise the negotiations in the public sector dispute," he said.
Government's offer was a 7% increase, against the unions' demand of 8.6%.
Government was also offering a further 1.5%, defined as pay progression, and a further 0.5%, which was attributable to the housing allowance that amounted to R700.
This made a total of about 9% against the demands the unions were making. Government had now moved in this particular
offer from its initial opening offer of 6% to a total sum of 9%, Padayachie said.
On the housing allowance demand, government had now moved from an opening offer of R600 to R700.
This proposal was currently being considered in the bargaining council.
Padayachie gave the assurance that within the resources available to the state, government was determined to find an appropriate solution that balanced both the interests of the public sector as well as the public interest of the people they were serving.
"We cannot allow ourselves to be compromised from meeting the obligations that we as a government have committed (to) in our programme of action, and the issues of finding an appropriate solution and ensuring that the strike is averted are very central to our commitment, Padayachie said.
"The workers of this country have a democratic right to strike, but insofar as we support that and take heed of that right, we also would like to urge the workers concerned that that right must be exercised without any threat, intimidation, or violence."
Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana called on all parties to endeavour to find a settlement "in any dispute that they may have".
"I know the strike is not what the workers want. I know that the strike is not what the employers want," he said.
There was no other solution except to go back to the negotiation table.
"It is important that we make sure that in South Africa social dialogue succeeds. There is no other method... Back to the negotiation table to find a settlement. Others will not resolve the dispute," Mdladlana said.