Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - South Africa’s 1.3 million public servants will not be receiving performance bonuses from April 2021 and will get reduced incentives for doing their jobs well from this year.

The move will be in place pending a review of the state’s incentive policy and due to national and provincial departments’ failing to comply with the Public Service Act.

This is a result of the government’s “current financial constraints, post the conclusion of the 2018 wage agreement and residual costs emanating the agreement”, according to the Department of Public Service and Administration.

But the country’s biggest public sector union and largest Cosatu affiliate, National Health, Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), has rejected the move, saying it was not consulted.

Nehawu’s first deputy president Mike Shingange told Pretoria News that the government knows that it should consult its employees in the Public Sector Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC).

“They should do it the other way round, they should start by reviewing the problematic performance management system but to start by the policy that exists now, I think it’s a problem. When you say you’re not going to pay from 2021/22 it means you have already reviewed. What gives rise to that moratorium?” he asked.

Shingange added that Nehawu believed this was just another provocation of public servants and undermining the collective bargaining processes in the public service.

According to Shingange, the plan by the government has not been presented at the PSCBC.

“There is no way the unions would have agreed on a moratorium (on performance bonuses). The unions will welcome, and in fact, have been calling for, a review of this performance management system because it’s not really working properly, it’s not uniform. Departments do as they wish, provinces do as they wish because there is no consistency,” he explained.

Shingange said the review must happen but through talks at the PSCBC.

He said performance management was imposed on public servants under former president Thabo Mbeki’s administration and no collective agreement exists on the matter.

“It has become an integral part of the employees’ condition of service now so it falls squarely in the PSCBC where its ‘reviewal’ must take place,” Shingange said.

Public Servants Association (PSA) assistant general manager Reuben Maleka said yesterday the second biggest public service union has already tabled its complaint against the move at the bargaining council.

Maleka said the plan was in contravention of PSCBC resolutions and has called on the government to come to the PSCBC to negotiate its plans.

He said the directive issued on January 30 was not enforceable and that the PSA would fight it.

The directive states that the inconsistent application of the government’s performance management and development system has resulted in payment of bonuses based on localised departmental incentive schemes, irrespective of the department’s actual performances or fairness.

This was what necessitated the comprehensive review of what should constitute a defensible incentive scheme.

The remuneration budgets of national and provincial government departments allocated to performance bonuses will be reduced by half this year, from 1.5% to 0.75% and 0.5% in 2020 until it’s 0% in 2021 until the comprehensive review is eventually completed.

Political Bureau