File image: IOL.
JOHANNESBURG - The signing of the public wage agreement by unions affiliated to Cosatu on Friday derailed plans by the Public Servants Association (PSA) to take to the streets today.

The PSA’s more than 230000 members had mobilised to participate in the union’s national Day of Rage today in support of their salary demands.

However, the signature of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union on Friday meant the three-year wage deal enjoyed the support of majority unions.

The general secretary of the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council, Frikkie De Bruin, said he was pleased that a protracted strike action was avoided.

“In this instance, collective bargaining was the ultimate winner, with parties being resolute in negotiating an amicable settlement, irrespective of the various challenges,” De Bruin said.

“Everyone may not be happy with everything in the resolution, but overall it attempts to address, in some form, the needs of every one of the 1.3million public servants impacted by the agreement”.

The government and unions agreed that from the first year of the agreement running backdated from April to March next year workers on level one to seven would get a 7percent increase, while those in level 8 to 10 would get 6.5percent increase, and those at level 11 to 12 would get 6percent.

In year two of the agreement, public servants on level one to seven would receive projected consumer price index (CPI) plus 1percent, while those on 8 to 10 would get CPI plus 0.5percent, and those on level 11 to 12 would only get a CPI-linked increase.

The agreement also stipulated that housing allowances for workers would be de-linked, meaning spouses would also be entitled to the allowance.

Chief economist at Citadel, Maarten Ackerman, said the government needed to conduct an actual headcount of the civil service to reduce the public wage bill and to link a wage increase to inflation.

The South African Democratic Teachers Union, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa, the Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie, the South African Medical Association, the Public and Allied Workers Union of South Africa and the South African State and Allied Workers Union signed the agreement.

The PSA, South African Policing Union, Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa, National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers and National Teachers Union did not sign the agreement, which they termed detrimental to workers.

PSA General Manager, Ivan Fredericks, said that the organisation was disappointed with detrimental salary agreement for public servants

“The PSA is disappointed that its efforts in the interest of public servants were derailed by those unions that have decided to support this detrimental offer by the employer that has plunged the public servants into three years of financial hardship,” Fredericks said.

PSA had demanded a 12percent wage increase across the board.

The union said that while it had cancelled its strike action, the strike by its members working for the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) would go ahead.

“The strike action planned for Sassa will still proceed as planned,” Fredericks said.

- BUSINESS REPORT