Government warned not to ‘provoke’ workers over wage hikes
Cape Town - Cosatu has warned the government could face a backlash if it refuses to grant municipal workers an increase at the end of this month after National Treasury reneged on a deal to increase wages.
Matthew Parks of Cosatu, told MPs on Friday National Treasury wrote to the South African Local Government Association (Salga) this week that it would not implement the 2020 wage agreement.
This would be the same time the government is heading for a collision with the workers after it refused to implement the 2018 wage agreement with the unions to increase salaries for public servants.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union and other public sector unions warned of a strike if the deal was not implemented and the matter was now headed for arbitration.
Parks, who was briefing the joint committees on appropriations in Parliament, said the government must not provoke workers with the latest decision over municipal workers.
“You can’t tell those workers to be happy if they are not paid. That situation will implode if those workers don’t get salary increases at the end of July. Those workers have a right to be angry,” said Parks.
Parks also warned that provinces and municipalities were not complying with National Treasury regulations to procure protective personal equipment (PPE).
He said they have been trying to get information from provincial governments and municipalities to buy PPE locally to boost the economy, but this has not happened.
Parks said they believe this was due to corruption.
The government announced a stimulus package of R500 billion to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Parks said the national government has to keep a close eye on local and provincial governments on procurement over PPE and other Covid-19 materials.
“We need to check how those municipalities are procuring those PPE. We are struggling to get information from provincial and local governments. There are two issues, it is that they are not compliant with National Treasury regulations or corruption. What we have seen is that the provincial government is the biggest culprit in this regard. Provincial governments are not interested in local procurement,” Parks told MPs.
He also said they were concerned with the latest audit outcomes from the auditor-general (AG), Kimi Makwetu, that irregular expenditure increased from R25bn to R32bn in municipalities.
This was shocking and something urgent has to happen, said Parks.
He said the government can save a lot of money if it can tighten measures and contain the rise in irregular expenditure.
The AG has over the years warned that irregular expenditure was increasing rapidly.
Parks said this was a serious matter. The AG has been given new powers to clamp down on corruption in all spheres of government.
Parks said they were concerned about the number of workers in municipalities who have contracted Covid-19.
He said the government has a responsibility to ensure that workers who are in the front line of Covid-19 and municipalities have the necessary PPE.