Nehawu announced it will take to the streets later this month after government declared a freeze on its employees’ salaries. Picture: Soraya Crowie
Nehawu announced it will take to the streets later this month after government declared a freeze on its employees’ salaries. Picture: Soraya Crowie

Nehawu threatens strike action over decision to freeze salaries

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Mar 18, 2020

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Johannesburg - One of the country’s largest public service unions announced on Wednesday it will take to the streets later this month after government declared a freeze on its employees’ salaries.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) revealed that the government told a special council meeting of the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) on March 17 that the government will offer its nearly 1.3 million employees a 0% salary increase from next month.

Public servants were due to receive between 4.4% and 5.4% wage increases, depending on salary level, in terms of the agreement reached at the PSCBC in 2018.

Nehawu, which accused the government of courting war with workers, has instructed its structures to start mobilising for a national day of action to take place on March 30, 2020 as a warning shot to the state to implement the 2018 agreement.

The Public Servants Association (PSA) has also rejected the government's plans and said this was done unanimously by organised labour.

The government claims it cannot implement the last leg of the 2018 agreement, according to the PSA.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced during his budget speech last month that the government was hoping to cut over R160 billion from the public service wage bill in the period until 2023.

Nehawu condemned the government for treating workers with sheer disdain while using them as scapegoats for problems in the fiscus.

”We find it abhorrent that the government waited until the last minute to plead poverty while completely ignoring the real cost drivers like corruption, wasteful and fruitless expenditure, and the haemorrhaging of money to the shambolically managed state-owned enterprises,” Nehawu said in a statement.

According to the union, its members cannot be punished for the economic crisis they have not created while the government dismally fails to impose austerity on the pay and privileges enjoyed by executives and directors.

Last week, Independent Media reported that municipal workers will receive a 6.25% pay hike from July, including an increase in conditions of service or benefits, the flat rate home owners’ allowance, gap market employees or non-pensionable allowance and maximum contributions to accredited medical aids.

The local government pay hike came as the National Treasury warned that the wage bill increases are crowding out spending on capital projects for future economic growth and impact on service delivery.

According to Treasury, municipalities should start taking decisive action to address bloated organisational structures and above inflation wage increases and balance compensation demands with the broader needs of society.

Political Bureau

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