Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

50% threshold needed for public sector wage negotiations to conclude

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Jul 26, 2021

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Johannesburg - Public sector unions that remain undecided over the government’s wage increase have until this week to decide whether they will sign on to the 1.5% wage increase.

Public sector wage negotiations have been deadlocked for months, as unions were reluctant to agree to the wage increase offered by the government.

Two weeks ago, the government tabled a final offer at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council.

The government’s offer includes a 1.5% pay progression.

It has also offered staff between levels 1 and 12 salary increases of between R1 200 and R1 700, and has indicated that the pay hike will be closer to R1 000 after tax deductions.

Cosatu-affiliated unions the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union rejected the offer, and Nehawu had filed a dispute over the matter.

The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), which is also a Cosatu-affiliated union, signed on to the offer a few weeks ago.

Last week, the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA and the National Teachers’ Union also accepted the wage increase.

Just more than 34% of unions have signed on to the agreement. To reach a 50% threshold for the agreement to be implemented, additional unions will have to support it.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke, the convener for all Cosatu-affiliated trade unions, said there was still some hope that unions would accept the wage offer.

“The agreement is currently signed by 34.7% since July 12. We are still waiting for a few unions (one is Denosa and another is PSA) who were still waiting for a mandate from their members.

“After 21 days, if the 50% is not reached, the offer will then be withdrawn by the government. Any party will then be allowed to write to the government to reinstate that, and we then start again waiting for another mandate. We remain hopeful that any union that will sign will be able to take us to 50%,” Maluleke said.

If the Public Servants Association signs the deal, the agreement could be implemented, as it had the 18% needed to reach the 50% threshold.

Meanwhile, in the local government sphere, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) is deadlocked with the SA Local Government Association (Salga) over a wage increase for the sector.

Samwu and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union declared a dispute at the SA Local Government Bargaining Council.

Samwu is demanding a minimum sectoral wage of R15 000, a R4 000 salary increase across the board, six months’ fully paid maternity leave, one month of fully paid parental leave, and a R3 500 housing allowance.

Salga has proposed a 2.8% salary increase.

Talks have been deadlocked for months, and even the intervention of a facilitator has not assisted the parties in reaching an agreement.

A conciliation process is under way and has been extended to August 3 and 4.

Samwu had warned that its members were prepared for strike action if the matter was not resolved at the conciliation level.

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Political Bureau

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