Trade union Cosatu is picketing outside the KwaZulu Natal treasury offices calling for risk allowances for all public sector workers who perform essential services. The union demands package increments as earlier negotiated with government.
Hoards of people have responded to Cosatu’s call, for a picket, which followed another picket on Thursday by health workers at the Durban’s Chief Albert Luthuli hospital. This was over claims made by staffers that around 100 health workers had tested positive for Covid19. The workers demanded to be tested.
Government is however not budging on salary increments for public workers.
Around 1.2 million public sector workers, who had hoped that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni would honour a three-year wage agreement that promised salary increments of around 4.3% and 5.4% in 2020, were left gobsmacked after Mboweni kicked the wages debate to later down the road.
In a press briefing on the Supplementary Budget on June 24, Mboweni said the objective was for a compensation system that was fair, transparent and fiscally affordable, but that it should also be in the framework of government.
Moving the target on increments to public service and administration department Minister Senzo Mchunu, Mboweni said the minister would lead the process on the compensation of workers.
What has sent union spiralling out in anger was the announcement to cut the public sector wage bill by R160 billion over the next three years by reviewing the three-year wage agreement that was signed in 2018 between government and trade unions. This review meant government would offer inflation-beating salaries in 2020 and there would be unwanted retrenchment to reduce the wage bill.
The trade unions have now challenged Mboweni’s decision in the Labour Court, negotiating terms of employment.