Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cosatu, Nehawu call for Senzo Mchunu's removal over wage impasse

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published Apr 28, 2021

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Cape Town - Labour federation Cosatu says it supports the call for Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu to step aside.

This was after Mchunu on Monday called on the public to come forward with proposals that might assist in resolving the deadlock on the public service wage negotiations between the government and organised labour. The parties reached a stalemate on Friday.

Unions are demanding a 4% plus increase.

During a media briefing last week, Mchunu said the wage negotiations were the most difficult ones yet between the parties.

This was based on several factors, among them the bad state of the economy, Covid-19, the outcome in the Labour Appeal Court which organised labour was appealing and had taken to the Constitutional Court, and the need for urgent reform in the public service.

Nehawu on Monday called for Mchunu’s removal of office.

Federation spokesperson Sizwe Pamla described the minister’s appeal to the public as “the most ridiculous and nonsensical statement”. He added that the department has reached the pinnacle of mediocrity.

“After exhausting itself from pursuing wrong-headed and cartoonish ideas to try and fix the economy, this administration is now resorting to savage populism by clumsily trying to set up its own employees against the members of the public.

“The federation agrees with its affiliated union, Nehawu, that the Minister of Public Service and Administration needs to do the right thing by stepping aside because he is out of his depth. Even before this absurd stunt, the president’s wisdom to keep Minister Senzo Mchunu in this portfolio has not been obvious to the federation.

“He has so far failed to show that he can handle the challenges of the office, confront big problems and that he possesses the governing techniques necessary to resolve the challenges facing the public service,” he said.

Pamla added that it is bizarre for the minister to be going around asking for possible solutions when the ANC that deployed him and his colleagues have given them a clear mandate.

“This victimisation of public servants has left an enduring consequence of work overload, low morale and weakened public sector’s capacity to deliver services. This silly stunt by the Minister of Public Service of running a mini- referendum will only serve to cause major and extended labour unrest and nothing else.”

Nehawu said Mchunu should step aside “if he feels like he cannot do his job anymore”. The union which has major representation in the public sector described the statement by Mchunu as seeking to pit unions against the public by insinuating that workers are unreasonable by demanding a living wage including defending collective bargaining.

“Once again, we call on the minister to desist from this silly stunt as if public servants are not members of the public who are working hard to provide for their families. Members of the public were not there at the negotiations at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) when the 2018 wage agreement was concluded.

“Moreover, members of the public were not there when the government insisted on a three-year agreement when unions were demanding a single-term agreement. It baffles us that now the Minister wants to involve innocent members of the public in cleaning up the mess created by the government.

“If the minister feels that he must outsource his responsibilities to the public then President Cyril Ramaphosa must relieve him of his duties. Just last week he announced to both the media and the public that the government was working hard to find common ground with public sector unions only for the government negotiators to come to the council with a 0% salary increase. No unions worth its salt would allow its members and workers to be subjected to a life of poverty because of slave wages,” said Xaba.

He added that Mchunu must disclose how much money the government lost through wasteful and fruitless expenditure by all levels of government.

“We want to reiterate our position that as unions we will not agree with the collapse of collective bargaining by Minister Mchunu and we will use all resources available at our disposal to defend the gains of our members. When funds meant to fight the Covid-19 pandemic were looted workers and the public was never invited to make proposals but we know that those funds lined the pockets of many Covidpreneurs.

When nurses, police, teachers, frontline officers rendered services to the country without proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), we were not called as a country to make a proposal but when workers’ demands increment the public is pitted against the same workers who continue to endure hardship under strenuous and life-threatening working conditions.”

tarry[email protected]

Political Bureau

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