South African Social Security Agency workers picket in Cape Town yesterday. A similar demonstration was also held in Durban. However, the workers’ strike was later suspended. Picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - The Public Servants Association (PSA) has suspended its strike at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) following a meeting between the union and Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu.
However, the union has threatened that the strike may resume with more intensity on Thursday if its demands are not met.

Sassa employees, affiliated to the PSA, downed tools yesterday, disrupting services at the agency’s offices in the Western Cape and KwaZulu- Natal.

Read: WATCH: Sassa workers down tools

The employees were demanding, among other things, a salary increase of between 13% and 15%. They want workers at levels 5 to 8 to receive 15% while those at levels 9 to 12 should receive a 13% increase.

The PSA is the largest union at Sassa. Apart from the salary increase, the workers are demanding that their housing allowance of R1500 be increased to R2500. Another demand is that of three days “special leave to be granted for religious activities other than that for Christians”.

PSA KZN manager Claude Naicker said Sassa members do not form part of the Public Service Bargaining Council and thus these workers will not be affected by the agreement signed by public service unions in terms of salary increases for public servants.

“The salary increases for public servants does not apply to these Sassa employees. They are in a similar position as workers at Sars, for example, or those at parastatals like Eskom,” Naicker said.

At the Umgeni Road office, a group of members picketed outside the office yesterday morning.

Naicker said the protests were planned in such a way that the most vulnerable members of society, who rely on Sassa services, were not affected badly.

“The payment of grants to the most vulnerable is done at the end of the month and we decided not to picket at that time. We want people to live, we want people to collect their grants.

“At this time, the services that are affected are registrations and assessments, new applications and late registrations,” he said.

A letter of demand was sent to Shabangu, where the PSA warns of increased action and mobilisation if its demands are not “favourably considered”.

Naicker said the minister had not proposed any increase for Sassa employees for the past 11 months. “Therefore we are waiting for the minister to meet with us and give us a clear indication of what the salary increases for our Sassa employees will be.”

The PSA received support from its parent union federation, Fedusa, which said: “Sassa’s failure to respond to workers’ demands left the PSA with no option but to approach the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration for a certificate of non-resolution which was duly issued on April 23, 2018.”

Sassa had not responded to questions by time of publish. 

The Mercury