Yesterday in Johannesburg, Nehawu general secretary Bereng Soke said it appeared the employer had not learnt from the protracted strikes of 2007 and 2010. He said labour and the employer were still far apart in terms of reaching an agreement on a wage increase for public servants.
Public servants are demanding a 10% wage increase, revised from their initial demand for 15%, while the employer is offering 5.8%, which was their initial offer at the start of the wage negotiations. “I can’t say much on whether there will be a strike at this stage,” said Soke.
“While the conciliation process is under way at the moment, like other Cosatu unions, we are currently rolling out an extensive consultation process with our members in their workplaces about the public service bargaining process.”
Nehawu’s first deputy president, Michael Shingange, warned a strike would have a huge impact on service delivery.
“The attitude displayed by the state is a threat to the spirit of public bargaining because never before have we seen the employer downgrade their opening wage offer,” he said.
Nehawu president Michael Makwayiba said the union was capable of leading a powerful strike, provided its members gave a mandate for industrial action. Speaking on behalf of all labour federation Cosatu’s public service unions early this week, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union’s general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, said the public servants’ unions consulted so far have rejected the employer’s offer.
Cosatu’s public service unions represent about 58% of public service employees in the education, health, safety and security sectors.