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PSA strike will hurt Sassa grant beneficiaries and government departments

Published Oct 18, 2023


Government’s IT services maybe severely disrupted when employees of the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) down tools over the entity’s refusal to increase their salaries by 7.5%.

The employees of the agency are expected to down tools today

As part of their effort to intensify the nationwide strike action at Sita offices, the workers have threatened to march to the office of the communications & digital technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele.

Public Servants Association (PSA) spokesperson Reuben Maleka said in an interview with broadcaster, Newzroom Afrika, that technicians would not be available from today.

This will affect government departments, and SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) beneficiaries who are due to receive their grants in the first week of next month, are likely to bear the brunt..

Last month, a technical glitch due to system migration left thousands of old age grant recipients unable to access their R2 080 in their Postbank/SASSA grant cards.

The PSA received a mandate from its members at Sita after the agency refused to accede to the union's demand for a 7.5% wage hike. Sita says its offer of 5% is final.

Yesterday (Tuesday), members of the PSA which represents the majority (80% of about 3 000) of employees at Sita were on day two of their national strike following a deadlock in salary negotiations.

“From Wednesday we are going to have a total shutdown of all services within Sita. You will not find any technician that can assist any department that is offline. If any of the departments, or any government entity will be offline from Wednesday. They will not be restored,” said Maleka.

He said this would impact service departments such as Home Affairs and Sassa.

“It is unfortunate that we might see a repeat of another disruption of payment of social grants come month end if this matter is not resolved,” said Maleka.

He said the workers were willing to negotiate with the government.

“We even made the commitment that we are available any time 24 hours to make sure that we resolve this impasse because we would not want to see the poor of the poorest who require the services of the state, including social grants, to be affected. It is not our intention.

We want Sita to come and meet, and find common ground,” Maleka said.

There were different messages on the placards carried by striking PSA members yesterday, such as - “We delivered R6 billion profit pay us fairly”

Another one read: “We provide vital services to Home Affairs, Justice Department, SAPS, Department of Defence, Department Correctional Service, Department of Health, Department of Education, Department of Labour, National Treasury and more…”

At the time of print, there was no response from Gungubele’s office.

PSA chief negotiator Zamani Dladla speaking in a radio interview, said it was unfortunate because that this agency (Sita) was mandated to provide network services to key departments such as Home Affairs and SASSA.

“If members are withdrawing their services, these departments will be affected. In as much as we understand the plight of the poor of the poorest… but in everywhere (sic) there is collateral damage because we need to balance the equation. You need to have a productive workforce which needs to be paid well and have their salaries increased. What they are getting now is not matching their buying power. We started with picketing from October 09 2023, we implemented our shutdown from October 16 2023,” Dladla said.

He said the employer met with the PSA on Monday upping the percentage by just 0.5% and offered them 5%.

“This was obviously rejected by members. Members want anything closer to 7.5%, but if it is something below, our members will not be able to take it. This was a clear mandate from the off-set,” he said.

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