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Public sector pay talks on hold

Parties involved in public sector pay talks were still “consulting”, the public service ministry said on Wednesday night.

“The parties have gone for consultation....Once we have something to report, we will report,” ministerial spokesman Ndivhuwo Mabaya said.

Earlier, talks were put on hold while Cosatu sought a mandate on the government's latest offer.

“Cosatu has asked for two weeks to consult,” said Mabaya.

He confirmed the government had upped its latest offer to a general salary increase of 6.7 percent, from 6.5 percent for the 2012/2013 financial year.

The most recent round of wage negotiations began on Monday evening and finished on Tuesday around 3.30am.

“We were ready to come back to the negotiating table this morning (Wednesday), but Cosatu said they need to seek a mandate.”

While there had been “some progress,” the Independent Labour Caucus (ILC), which represents 11 unions, was not satisfied with the latest offer, its spokesman Chris Kloppers said. He said the caucus had lowered its demand from eight to 7.5 percent.

Mabaya said the government was negotiating in good faith.

“We are not saying it is 6.7 percent and anyone who doesn't like it must go home. We are considering the competing demands on this country. We have to work with what we have.”

Newly appointed Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has previously indicated the government's offer to unions was already billions of rand over what it had budgeted.

On Wednesday, Mabaya said the government would resume talks as soon as the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) was ready.

“Anytime, we are ready.... We are on stand-by 24 hours a day.”

Kloppers said talks were on hold because state negotiators were out of the country.

“This week, the state's chief negotiators have gone on an overseas trip to Canada,” he said. They were expected back on July 11.

Mabaya said it was a study trip for people representing all parties involved in the public sector bargaining council, including ILC negotiators.

“They cannot say they are waiting for Canada. They are waiting for Cosatu.”

Mabaya said the government wanted to resolve pay talks so it could focus on eradicating inefficiency in the sector.

“They do miracles and we reward them well.”

The talks deadlocked in May, but Sisulu tried to revive them in June. The new talks deadlocked mid-month when the ILC declared a wage dispute. - Sapa

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