Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan delivers delivers the 2014 Budget Speech in Cape Town.

Johannesburg - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's national Budget could prejudice wage negotiations for public servants, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) said on Wednesday.

General secretary Fikile Majola said in a statement that aspects of the Budget could harden attitudes and poison relations before wage talks began.

“We are concerned that the Treasury is already pre-emptively anticipating a 'slower wage bill growth' at around 6.4 percent over the next three years.”

The union was satisfied that capital spending would be the fastest-growing component of non-interest expenditure until the 2016/17 financial year.

“With this in mind, we expect that the legitimate demands and aspirations of the public service workers would no longer be played up against the service delivery demands of our communities,” he said.

“The treatment of workers' demands as an item that needs to be traded-off with the service delivery demands of the people, will create labour instability and poison relations in the public service.”

This would serve to delay the delivery of services to the poor, he said.

Nehawu was also concerned that there had been no progress report from the Presidential Remuneration Commission, established to investigate the remuneration and conditions of service for public servants.

Majola welcomed the increase in budget allocation for HIV and Aids programmes.

“However, we note that an amount of R1.2 billion has been set aside for piloting general practitioners contracts in the health system.

“For Nehawu this seems to be an attempt to shift funding away from the public sector, to support private sector initiatives, when we know that our members in the public service are often overstretched and are working under increasing pressure because of staff shortages,” he said. - Sapa