Cape Town - Agreement on the public service wage dispute should be reached
by the end of next week and the matter finally concluded, Public Service and
Administration Minister Richard Baloyi said on Thursday.
Briefing the media at Parliament, he gave the assurance that
government and the trade unions were close to finding a solution, but the latter
had requested more time to consult their members.
"When you deal with issues of salaries, you are dealing with
bread and butter issues, highly emotive at times.
"When you are to finalise and conclude on your bargaining, you
definitely need to take your membership on board," he said. "More time is requested by our trade unions to still further consult and consolidate," the minister told a press briefing in Parliament.
"In the spirit of working together, taking on board and understanding each other's circumstances we say OK to the public sector bargaining council that they may actually give some more time for the labour to finalise their processes of consultation.
"We are looking forward to be in a position to report concretely by the turn of the week (next week) where we can then say this is where we are in terms of the consulting process.
"We are hopeful that we will be in a position where we have a 'forward march' that we are going to communicate to the people for them to understand that, yes, we have come to the end of this, so that we can look forward to dealing with other things."
Baloyi declined to comment on the negotiations still to come regarding the phasing of pay deductions from striking civil servants.
He said that it was a condition that details of negotiations be kept within the bargaining chamber until it is all settled.
An announcement on this, and other matters, would be made when final agreement had been reached in the PSCBC, he said.
On Wednesday, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced the public sector strike was officially over, even though no deal had yet been signed with government.
At a press conference in Centurion, National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) president Michael Makwayiba said that seven of the eight Cosatu unions had accepted government's offer of a 7.5% wage increase and an R800 monthly housing allowance.
"Today I think is the final closure of the strike."
He believed the 50% support threshold needed to accept the offer would be reached soon.
Independent Labour Caucus (ILC) spokesperson Chris Klopper said one of the ILC unions had accepted the offer, bringing the total to about 45% of workers accepting it.
He said that by next Tuesday he believed that more union leaders representing another 36% of workers would have received a mandate to either accept or reject the offer.
Makwayiba said: "We must appreciate the strike this year was a long protracted strike. We had to be sure that we reach every union."
The unions suspended their four week strike early in September for 21 days to allow members time to consider government's offer.