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Govt wage woes mount

Dec 07 2017 17:57
Tehillah Niselow, Fin24

Pretoria - Government negotiators on Thursday rejected trade unions’ demands for between 10- and 12% wage increases and a one-year deal, and instead offered Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) linked hikes for junior and mid-level employees.

“The employer agrees with the sliding scale increase, but not (emphasis their own) with the percentage increase," the negotiators said in a document seen by Fin24.

Government representatives spelt out their opening offer at the Public Service Bargaining Council (PSCBC) in Centurion after postponing the deadline twice as they didn’t have a mandate from Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA).

The document details that government is willing to offer CPI increases for junior and mid-level government employees on levels 1-10 and a hike of CPI-1 for senior government employees level 11-12. CPI is forecast by Treasury to be 5.2% year-on-year in 2018.

Trade unions in October tabled demands of a 12% increase for levels 4-7, an 11% increase for levels 8-10 and a 10% increase for levels 11-12.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in the October Medium Term Budget Speech detailed that a runaway public wage bill represents a danger to South Africa’s precarious fiscal stability. Compensation of civil servants currently stands at 35.3% of consolidated expenditure.

The three-year government wage deal expires at the end of March. In 2015, government and unions agreed to a 7% pay hike, plus a 1% increase for the next two years.

University fees

Labour’s demand for the children of public servants to receive subsidises or bursaries for higher education was also rejected by government.

“An investigation on (sic) the feasibility of providing a bursary scheme for children of public service employees has been finalised and is ready to be tabled in council”, negotiators state.

Trade unions have frequently complained that civil servants’ children are part of the "Missing Middle" as many teachers, nurses and police officers cannot afford university fees, but earn above the threshold to qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Municipal salaries

Another of Cosau’s affiliates, the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) on Thursday rejected the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) wage offer, in a separate process underway, in the first round of salary negotiations.

SAMWU is demanding an across-the-board 15% salary hike for all municipal workers or R3 155, whichever is greater and a one-year deal. The municipal representative body is offering a 4.6% raise in the first year and CPI plus 0.25% for the remainder of the agreement. SALGA is seeking a 5-year deal with trade unions.

“We are convinced that SALGA has not opened this round of negotiations in good faith, we have therefore rejected this proposal as it is laughable and insulting to municipal workers," the union said in statement.

SAMWU also warned SALGA against placing the “blame” on workers for the financial difficulties many municipalities are experiencing.

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malusi gigaba  |  cosatu  |  union  |  labour  |  public servants  |  wages

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