Wage negotiations may be settled in record time if members agree to government offer

Published Mar 23, 2023


Johannesburg - An early settlement in wage negotiations between government and trade unions may be on the horizon after the employer improved its wage offer to public servants to 7.5%.

In a briefing held by a coalition of trade unions that constitute a majority in the Public Sector Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), the unions said they were seeking a mandate from their members on the latest and final offer from government.

The coalition of trade unions include South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) an affiliate of Cosatu, together with the unions affiliated to the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) namely Naptosa, PSA, Hospersa and SAOU.

Together, these unions form a 53.9% majority in the council. This does not include unions that embarked on an illegal strike earlier in the month. The striking unions included the National Education and Health Workers Union (Nehawu), the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and the SA Police Workers Union (Sapu) members who embarked on a strike after boycotting the 2023/24 wage negotiations, claiming that the previous wage negotiations for 2022/23 remained incomplete.

The unions had already adjusted their original demand of 10% to 8% a week ago.

“The difference between our demands on COLA and the final offer is 0.5%. As part of good faith negotiations, labour had to revise its demand from 10% to 8% (7.5% employer and 8% labour) hence we are subjecting the offer to members to decide,” said the trade unions.

Should the union members agree to a settlement, it will cover the two years beginning April 1, and would have been settled in record time.

In a brief explanation, general secretary of Sadtu, Mugwena Maluleke said government offered the 7.5% be implemented in a sliding scale where the lower salary levels would receive a larger percentage to close the wage gap. For an example at salary level, the percentage would be 14.8% pensionable increase or what is known as baseline. The increase would apply to salary levels 1 – 12, including those remunerated in terms of an Occupation Specific Dispensation.

“In year two, which is the financial year 2024/2025, the employer has proposed to pay workers a pensionable increase set at CPI (Projected CPI for the relevant period will be deemed to be 4.5% and, in the event, the Projected CPI for the relevant period is above 6.5%, the Projected CPI will then be deemed to be 6.5%.

“On housing allowance: the employer referred organised labour to a prior agreement that a CPI benchmarked increase would be effected yearly,” the unions said.

Maluleke added that it was deeply concerning that unions in the public sector seem to be at odds with each other.

He said this should not be the case, as it was a well-known fact that all unions carry a mandate of their members.

“We are mindful of the fact that negotiations are a give and take. We would like to assure our members that they are the ones leading these negotiations through the mandates given to our negotiators,” he said.

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