Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Tuesday, cautioned the governing African National Congress (ANC) against the retrenchment of a reported 30 000 public servants in a cost cutting exercise for the next three years.
Secretary general Bheki Ntshalintshali said his organisation wanted to hear the ANC state publicly that "retrenchments will never happen".
He said Cosatu would boycott the upcoming jobs summit if there was no guarantee that no public servant would be retrenched.
"We learnt this morning that the ANC said it would not support retrenchments...but just not supporting is not enough," Ntshalintshali said after Cosatu's central executive committee meeting in Johannesburg.
"The ANC is in government and it should be saying that shall not happen...that's what we want to hear from the ANC, because people working in government are accountable to the ANC. What workers want to hear is that retrenchments shall not happen under the ANC government."
He said the ANC would be deviating from its policies should it allow the trimming of the public service, because a developmental State should seek ways to decrease joblessness and not add to it.
"Secondly, such a move will be an opposition to what the job summit is meant to achieve. The summit is about retaining jobs, finding ways to employ young people...it is not about retrenchments. But to us also, retrenchments everywhere, including the private sector, are a problem and we are not only focusing on government...none of the things discussed even at Nedlac are not about retrenchments...protect jobs, otherwise we will not go the summit if it will be about retrenchments."
According to the Mail & Guardian newspaper, President Cyril Ramaphosa's administration plans to cut at least 30 000 jobs in the public service seen as bloated with an annual salary bill of R587 billion. Government will need to set aside R4 billion to pay for the retrenchment packages in order to to save an estimated R20 billion in wages. The plan was reportedly discussed at the ANC lekgotla two weeks ago.
Public Services Minister Ayanda Dlodlo on Monday, denied that there was such a plan to cut government jobs, and blasted media reports for causing "unnecessary harm and conflict".
Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini said such proposals could have come from "no one else" but National Treasury, led by Minister Nhlanhla Nene.
"The ANC denies this, but we know that it [the plan] comes from Treasury...we are talking national Treasury's austerity measures here. No one has ever come out and say they see retrenchments as a way ahead...we are going to shout as loud as we can and hold Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and the ANC to their clarification on this. It's not gonna happen."
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African News Agency (ANA)