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Claim over state pay 'a lie'

Feb 03 2011 20:30 Sapa

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Johannesburg - The survey which found that public servants earned 44% higher salaries than their private sector counterparts was false, the National Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu), said on Thursday.

"This is nothing more than a disinformation campaign deliberately made-up to reinforce the myth that public servants are overpaid and their increases need to be moderated," the union said in a statement.

It was referring to results of a survey done by the SA Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) which found that one in eight people in South Africa work in the public sector, earning salaries 44% higher than in the private sector.

Nehawu, which is affiliated to the Congress of SA Trade Unions, blamed the media for not scrutinising the survey.

"This flawed information, unfortunately, has been recycled without scrutiny by the unsuspecting media to achieve narrow political goals.

"And, unfortunately, the SAIRR is being used as an authoritative source by the neoliberals to espouse their policies that promote anti-union, anti-worker and anti-social measures."

It was "preposterous" that while the government complained that workers were leaving the public service for better pay in the private sector, the SAIRR's survey showed that public servants were better paid.

Nehawu said a registered nurse earned between R73 371 and R157 312 a year in a government hospital, and between R117,935 and R168,894 a year in a private hospital.

It said the SAIRR had neglected to report about the huge wage gap between senior bureaucrats in government and officials at lower levels.

"Even there, to say they are overpaid compared to the private sector is hogwash," it said.

Nehawu said that in 2008 the top 20 directors of companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange earned an average of R59m a year.

In 2009, the average earnings of an employee in the South African economy were R34 000.

In the public sector, the top 20 directors earned about R6.6m a year.

"The institute needs to tell us about the inequalities that exist between cleaners and researchers and directors, because these inequalities are embarrassing and are the source of the long and volatile strikes they are talking about.

"Their slanted general survey proves that they would rather have the public sector join the race to the bottom rather than see an improvement in the cost of living adjustment."

Nehawu suggested that the SAIRR study the impact on service delivery of the government's failure to fill vacancies in the public service.
 
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