Cape Town - The National Planning
Commission called for a multi-year public service salary
determination process to help keep the wage bill sustainable.
In its revised plan released on
Wednesday, the commission warned that the wage bill was set to exceed
a third of total state expenditure, echoing concerns voiced by
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
"The levels need to be
sustainable. The commission recommends that multi-year agreements be
reached on public-service pay, and this is determined in line with
the national budget process."
It also recommended that the public
sector bargaining council be broken into different chambers, judging
that pervasive pay dispute strikes were due in part to conflation
between different work sectors.
It called for a clear definition of
essential public services, and alternatives to resolving disputes in
those sectors, including health, education and policing, than strike
The call for a definition is pertinent
to the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, which is part of a labour law
regime overhaul criticised by business as "regressive".
The commission appears to be at odds
here with the Congress of SA Trade Unions, which last month called
for more flexible processes defining essential services.
The NPC's proposals on probation
periods also seem to call for fine-tuning in the bill, which calls
for all employers to be considered permanent staff after six months.
It said it should be clear in law that
employers can appoint workers on a probation period of up to six
months without ordinary, unfair dismissal protection coming into
"Uncertainty about the application
of current provisions undermines the willingness of firms to hire
Overall the NPC maintained its
original, cautious call for greater labour market flexibility,
without demanding drastic law changes.
It said the market must become more
responsive in order to expand employment opportunities, and allow the
country to move "progressively" to the vision of decent
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