Public sector workers affiliated to the Public Servants Association of SA (PSA) are ready to go on strike should government not come to the party regarding their wage demands.
The PSA yesterday said it was extremely disappointed with the department of public service and administration’s “failure to conciliate the wage dispute with the PSA”.
If it can’t reach an agreement regarding its wage demands by today, members will down tools.
In a statement, the PSA’s deputy general manager Tahir Maepa said: “The employer has plunged the public service into total collapse and the PSA has strongly warned against this before.
“This is a sad day, when government fails to comprehend the dire consequences of this non-resolution.”
The union is demanding a wage increase of 10% across the board, while government has stuck to an offer of 7%.
The union also demands an end to a clause in employment contracts which disqualifies spouses who both work in the public sector from both claiming housing allowances.
It believes this amounts to unfair labour practice, as employees’ employment contracts are negotiated on an individual basis and marital status should be inconsequential.
It demands an increase to current housing subsidies, from R900 to R1 500 per person.
Maepa told The Citizen that the current wage increase offer of 7% would be a slap in the face of workers, as it practically amounted to a mere 1% increase in income, if the consumer price index, along with recent VAT hikes, were taken into consideration.
“It doesn’t really take cost of living into account,” he said, “since they use projections of where the CPI will be, and disregard the VAT increase of 1%.
“If all this is taken into account, workers on level one to five, which are the lowest-earning workers, will only be getting an effective increase of 1%.”
Unions, including the Cosatu-affiliated National Health, Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), were engaged in conciliation with the PSA late yesterday.
Nehawu did not respond to The Citizen’s requests for comment on the matter.
However, Maepa said he does not believe it or any of the other unions would agree to the offers tabled.
“We again call upon other labour unions to reject this draft agreement as it is not worth the paper it is written on.
“Signing this agreement will be a real slap in the face of public servants that we claim to represent during these wage negotiations.
“The PSA will now start balloting its members for a strike action,” he said.
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