Johannesburg - The crippling strike at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) has been called off following Wednesday's "massive victory" for workers at the grant payment agency.
The Labour Court struck off the roll an interdict brought by Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu last week to halt the Public Servants Association's (PSA) strike at Sassa, which began on Monday.
The PSA represents about 5 180 of Sassa's 8 575 employees, according to an affidavit filed by Ivan Fredericks, the union's general secretary.
Leon Gilbert, PSA's assistant general manager for collective bargaining told The Star on Wednesday that the union's workers will be going back to work from Thursday as the Labour Court, along with striking Shabangu's interdict application off the roll, has ruled that the Department of Social Development and Sassa workers should return to the bargaining table for wage negotiations.
PSA has put an initial wage-hike demand of between 11% and 13%.
However, Shabangu had initially extended the public-sector wage deal, which was signed in June, to Sassa employees.
Public sector workers received salary increases of between 6% and 7%, depending on employees' salary scales.
The PSA's Gilbert enthused that the court's decision was a huge victory for workers, collective bargaining and grant beneficiaries who he said had suffered since the strike began.
"As from tomorrow, the strike will be off. The court ordered the employer to start negotiations with us, which is what we wanted.
"Our wage demands are not fixed and we are open to negotiations. The employer must bring what they believe is their best offer; we will consider it, and take the offer to our members," Gilbert said.
He added that the court said the two parties should report back to it on July 12 on the progress of starting the negotiations, but that the PSA wanted to conclude negotiations as soon as possible.
Should a wage agreement be reached, Gilbert said, it would be back-dated to April 1.