Nehawu wants pay hike, or else mass action
Johannesburg - South Africa’s biggest public sector union, Nehawu, is preparing to take national mass action against the government as it is growing sceptical of the commitment to effect agreed salary increases for public servants.
On Monday, Nehawu and other public sector unions held a meeting with Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu, where they demanded assurances that the government would implement the 2018 Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) three-year agreement.
The government proposes that the agreement be reviewed, as the National Treasury said there were revenue constraints on funding for the increases.
On Monday, Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba said the union was not prepared to negotiate with Mchunu, but wanted a written assurance for the increments, or threatened the unions would go ahead with preparations for their planned national mass action.
“We just want to ask him in person if he is paying or not, so that if he is not, we activate our machinery on the ground. If he is saying the government is going to pay, he must put it in writing so that we can hold him accountable on April 1,” Xaba said.
Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha had indicated that the union had already directed all its structures to prepare for a process of consultation with members and to start mobilising for a national day of action scheduled for March 30.
Saphetha said the public servants were expecting the government to fully implement last year’s agreement, which will see across the board salary adjustment to the cost of living by CPI plus 1% for salary levels 1 to 7, while salary levels 8 to 10 would be adjusted by CPI plus 0.5%.
Saphetha maintained that workers would stage a rolling mass national strike if the government failed to implement the resolution.
“The only negotiations we will entertain with the government is the conclusion of a new agreement following the lapse of the current agreement,” he said.
Saphetha accused the government of slashing salaries of ordinary workers while implementing a budget that reduced allocations for basic needs of the working class, including education, health and housing.
“No trade union worthy of its existence can even consider entering into a discussion to worsen the terms and conditions of work of its members and the working class It is simply unrealistic on the part of the government to even contemplate this,” Saphetha said.
Cosatu, of which Nehawu is the biggest affiliate, and other federations, including Fedusa, have indicated that they would declare a dispute and apply for the enforcement of the agreement if salaries were not increased by April 1.
The meeting between Mchunu and the unions was still under way by print deadline.