Pretoria - The government, through its Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council has sealed a 7.5% wage offer deal with the majority of public sectors unions, which includes the Cosatu-aligned SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu).
Sadtu was the only Cosatu union which formed part of the swift wage negotiations since February this year while other affiliates such as Nehawu, Denosa and Popcru did not form part of the negotiations.
Nehawu even organised protest action, demanding that the government should open wage negotiations which collapsed in October last year, which prompted the government to unilaterally implement the 3% wage increase.
Announcing the 2023 deal, bargaining council general secretary Frikkie de Bruin yesterday said the government and the majority of Trade Unions in Council had agreed on a multi-term agreement for the financial years 2023/24 and 2024/2025.
This includes an average increase of 7.5% salary adjustment for public servants for the financial year 2023/24, and a capped projected CPI salary increase for the financial year 2024/25.
It also includes expediting the decisions on the implementation of the Government Employees Housing Scheme as agreed to during the Public Service Summit.
De Bruin said the majority of trade unions who signed the agreement were Hospersa, Naptosa, PSA and Sadtu, saying together these formed a 53.9% majority in favour of the agreement.
Nehawu, Popcru, Denosa and Sapu opted not to sign the agreement as per the mandate given by their members.
The parties at the bargaining council commenced the wage negotiations on February 17, 2023, and the signing of this agreement on Friday marked the conclusion of the wage negotiations.
He said the government, in an attempt to bring the salaries of public servants in line with the market, had agreed to a two-year multi-term agreement.
For the financial year 2023/24, the employer shall pay employees on salary levels 1-12 including those remunerated in terms of an Occupation Specific Dispensation in the Public Service an average increase of 7.5%.
“For the financial year 2024/25, the employer shall pay employees on salary levels 1-12 including those remunerated in terms of an Occupation Specific Dispensation in the public service a pensionable salary increase of a capped projected CPI between 4.5% and 6.5%.
“This means that in the event that the projected CPI percentage for 2024/25 is less than 4.5%, the 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 be deemed to be 6.5%,” he said.
De Bruin said that the parties also agreed that the employer shall process the payment of the pay progression to all qualifying employees in the public service in line with the applicable sectoral agreement.
On the housing scheme, parties agreed to expedite the decisions on the implementation as agreed to during the Public Service Summit and these are entrenched in Resolution 1 of 2022.
“The bargaining council applauds parties for their commitment to the wage negotiation process, which resulted in the signing of the agreement before the commencement of the new financial year.
“The signing of the multi-term agreement allows for some stability to focus on implementing various agreements, including the Public Sector Summit agreement,” De Bruin said.
The signing of the agreement came a few days after Sadtu spurned calls by Zwelinzima Vavi to boycott the signing.
In reaction, Sadtu national spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said: “Sadtu takes its line of march from members. We refuse to be bullied by all these forces we are not aligned to.”
Saftu meanwhile said it was disappointed by the public service unions that signed the wage offer by the government.
“Because these unions form a slight majority, the offer is now an agreement, binding to all parties in the bargaining council and enforceable,” national spokesperson Trevor Shaku said in a statement.
“The agreement is a multi-term agreement that will give the public service workers what is purported 7.5% wage increase in 2023/24 and an increase ranging between a minimum of 4.5% and 6.5% (depending on the CPI) in 2024/25.
“In our recent statement, we opined that the public service unions must reject the wage offer because it undermines the buying power of the wages of public service workers.”
Shaku said the wage offer was not a 7.5% wage increment as was presented, but a 3.3% real increase. “The 4.2% is merely a carry-over of the cash gratuity which has been paid to workers since 2021. The only difference now is that it is being converted from a non-pensionable cash-gratuity into a pensionable salary on the baseline.”