Cosatu mulls court action if government fails to implement 2018 agreement on wage bill
The National Treasury hopes a solution will be found on the wage bill after unions rejected attempts to block a deal struck two years ago.
Director-general in the Treasury Dondo Mogajane told the joint committees on finance that unions had called for the matter to be dealt with at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni had announced it would cut the wage bill by R160 billion in the next three years. But Cosatu said yesterday if the government failed to implement the decision of 2018, and increase wages, this would backfire.
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the union was waiting until next month for the government to implement the increases.
He said Cosatu had indicated to the government there was nothing to further talk about.
“They should be losing sleep about the next round of negotiations in August. They have set a bad precedent for themselves.
“A multi-year agreement is the best vehicle you have because you can project. What they have done now they have sent a troublesome message with the workers.
“They might find themselves having to negotiate annually,” said Pamla.
He said this could result in labour instability in the public sector.
“This thing is going to backfire in one way or another,” he said.
Pamla said there was no clause in the agreement of 2018 to review the wages.
He suggested that the government should stick to the agreement and implement it.
“They were trying to do something that has never been done before. They have to honour the agreement and they have muddied the waters with what they are trying to do,” he said.
Pamla said they could go to court if government failed to implement the agreement next month.
Mogajane said the government had been doing several things to cut costs in the budget.
He said President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a freeze on salaries for ministers and deputy ministers.
He said the government was looking at a number of areas in which to cut costs. “We have to look at accommodation leases and renegotiate the prices.”
On the Ministerial Handbook, Treasury was cutting costs on travel and was also looking at the houses for ministers and deputy ministers in Cape Town.
This would include moving a single minister, with no family, into a flat, which is small and costs less.
“All the talk means nothing.
“If you fail to implement the contract there are enforcement mechanisms.
“If push comes to a shove, you declare a dispute,” said Pamla.