President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday met with the executive leadership of selected Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 state owned companies at the Union Buildings. Picture: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS
Public sector unions are intensifying pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu to abandon government plans to trim the public service.

Instead the unions wants government to save their jobs.

Sadtu and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) became the latest unions to express their outrage at the imminent call to public servants aged 55 to be placed on early pension.

Mchunu confirmed at the weekend that he would go ahead with the government’s intention to trim the public service and cut the wage bill. However, he said such a decision would be taken after consultation with the unions, including Sadtu and Saftu.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said his union has already advised its members not to take early retirement without being penalised as the government had failed to clearly explain its intentions to members.

“The matter was introduced at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council and Labour probed it extensively and requested the employer to present a comprehensive human resource plan, inclusive of all departments in order to determine the extent to which various departments shall be affected by this policy change.

“However, the government failed to present the plan,” Maluleke said.

Sadtu was of the view that the government retirement plan was not done in good faith. 

“It did not take the interests of workers at heart but was meant to appease the rating agencies,” he said.

According to Sadtu, while the governing ANC managed to retain power after the May 8 national elections, the major beneficiaries of the outcome of the elections will be the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and rating agencies.

“As much as the country had its expectations on the elections, institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, equally had an interest in the path the country was going to take and this would not make things easier for the workers of our country.

“The national executive committee then called on newly-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa not to be desperate to attract foreign direct investment by appeasing the ratings agencies that are the bastion of neo-liberal macroeconomic policies at the expense of workers and the poor,” Maluleke said.

“It is a well-known fact that the ratings agencies, are not happy about our public sector wage bill,” he said.

Maluleke said those who will take their pension will suffer serious losses as it would be calculated on the retirement age of 55 and not at the projected value of the pension at the age of 65.

“We don’t think that will be fair to workers. Removing teachers who have invaluable experience will deplete the intellectual capital of the teaching and education sector.

“This will further demoralise many teachers who are at present already demoralised because they teach overcrowded classrooms.

“We need strengthened, supported and motivated educators/public servants,” Maluleke said.

Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi also said the proposal would adversely affect all sectors in the public sector, especially poverty-stricken areas of the Eastern Cape which were hard hit by infant mortality rates between 2010 and 2015.

“What we have demonstrated is that the government has become prisoners of the conservative forces.

“The regrettable part is that the government ministers and the top bureaucrats do not have their kids in the public schools and never visit public health institutions to see the ravages of the neo-liberal dogma and austerity programmes,” Vavi said.

Other public sector unions are also opposed to the trimming.

Political Bureau