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Organised labour cry foul over government’s proposed Public Administration Management Bill

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi Picture: GCIS

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi Picture: GCIS

Published Dec 12, 2022


Cape Town - Organised labour is mounting a serious fight against the government’s proposed Public Administration Management Bill.

The bill, among other things, proposes that three ministers deal with the wage negotiations.

Union leaders, who led the recent workers’ shutdown in November, said the government is trying to disempower labour in the municipal bargaining process.

The Cape Argus has seen memorandums by labour, detailing their grievances against the bill, to be tabled by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) in 2023. Contacted, DPSA Acting Minister Thulas Nxesi’s phone went unanswered.

The bill proposes that municipalities no longer conclude collective agreements, such as wage increases and conditions of service and benefits without the veto of the trio ministers, including Nxesi, “even in municipalities not run by the ANC”, said sources.

The SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) comprises the SA Local Government Association (Salga) and the trade unions. Sources said the SALGBC is preparing a legal case against the government.

Queried about the fightback, Salga spokesperson Tebogo Mosala said: “The letter (to the ministers raising unions’ discontent about the bill) was not written by Salga but the bargaining council.”

Attempts to get comment from the bargaining council were unsuccessful.

DPSA spokesperson Moses Mushi had not responded by deadline. The memo reads: “The question was put to the DPSA, during the SALGBC engagements, as to why this bill is necessary.

“The DPSA was asked what the problems are with collective bargaining that necessitates this drastic legislation. The DPSA said they did not identify problems, only a ‘gap’.

“This gap presumably means the DPSA wants to control collective bargaining of all three sectors, regardless that they do not govern all municipalities in this sector.”

Meanwhile, the Cederberg Municipality has withdrawn an appeal in the Labour Court against an arbitrator who ruled that the municipality will have to pay workers in backdated payments.

The 345 municipal workers are demanding that the municipality pay them in accordance with a previous three-year deal, which would have seen workers pocket a 4.9% increase, but the municipality reneged on the agreement, leading to an arbitrator ordering the municipality to pay up.

The back pay is estimated at R6.6m.