Cosatu slams Tito Mboweni Budget Speech 2020
Parliament - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Wednesday branded Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's 2020 budget "provocative" and his plans to curb the civil service wage bill an unwarranted attack on workers.
"Cosatu finds the government’s continuous attacks on public servants silly and tiresome. Little recognition is given to the conditions facing public servants, like being overworked and underpaid," the trade union federation said.
"These public servants support on average seven unemployed extended family members. The fixation with the wage bill is nonsensical when considering the fact that it has been stable for the past 10 years at 35 percent of the government consolidated expenditure, in line with international standards."
Mboweni said government would trim R160.2 billion off the public wage bill over three years, which will see consolidated compensation spending contract by about one per cent in real terms over the medium term.
According to National Treasury, civil servants' wages have grown by about 40 per cent over the past 12 years.
There have been repeated warnings in national budgets in recent years that the public wage bill needs to be contained as national debt climbs to unsustainable levels but Mboweni's announcement on Wednesday signals clear intent.
The minister said he believed the labour movement and the treasury would "find each other" on the subject, but Cosatu took a combative stance.
"Workers will not play victims and the government can rest assured that they will demand and not beg for what is due to them. Cosatu remains battle-ready to pushback against this public service cuts agenda," it said.
The federation, an alliance partner of the ruling African National Congress, also accused Mboweni of failing to table clear plans to turn around South Africa's stricken public enterprises, Eskom chief among them.
"The one alarming aspect of this budget is the discovery that the government has no clear and concrete plans to stabilise and revive our key [state-owned enterprises] SOEs," it said.
"The incessant lamentation might be therapeutic, but it cannot be regarded as a strategy. Comprehensive turnaround plans are needed as a matter of urgency. "
African News Agency (ANA)