Sadtu impasse with government on wage increases
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has accused the government of having failed to demonstrate that it can't afford the wage increases agreed on.
This comes as Sadtu, Nehawu, nurses union Denosa and police union Popcru are gearing themselves up for a legal battle with the government on Wednesday at the Labour Court over the 2018 multi-term three-year agreement, which was concluded at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC).
The government indicated that it would not be able to implement the last phase of the wage agreement on increases, which was due by April 1, but public sector unions have since put up a fight against the refusal as they insist the agreement is binding and affordable.
In a statement on Monday, Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the implementation of the full wage deal would have cost the government just over R30 billion.
Maluleke said lawyers for the unions would point out that while it was unforeseen that the government would experience economic setbacks as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it did not have the right to avoid its obligations “by relying on the change of circumstances”.
“The government’s grounds for being unable to afford the increases are primarily a result of events that occurred after the collective agreement was concluded and are therefore irrelevant,” he said.
Maluleke said the lawyers would argue that while the government may be given some leeway in terms of the time of compliance, it had to find alternative funding instead of trying to exonerate itself.
“In arguing that the collective agreement is binding, the lawyers point out that the state’s representative in the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council was authorised to conclude the agreement,” he said.