The surge in strikes, observed from 2007, calls for a resuscitation of trust and respect in wage negotiations, Oliphant told the third biennial labour relations conference hosted by the Public Service Commission in Pretoria.
Reducing the number of strikes meant an improved ability to reach agreement, with an emphasis on rebuilding trust and respect between all parties involved.
He said the public service was faced with the difficulty of contributing to economic growth and creating decent work.
“While our labour relations should certainly be supportive of economic growth and employment, it is important to recognise that our law is not focused on securing employment for citizens of the country.
“Labour legislation is principally concerned with providing the employed with basic protection against unfair labour practices, unsafe working conditions, and a decent living wage. There have been many calls for a review of the labour legislation as if that is a panacea for all our labour-related problems.”
Oliphant said the labour market suffered from the legacy of apartheid era oppression, racial discrimination, and extreme income and wage inequalities.
“Unfortunately, these inequalities are also evident in the public service,” he said.
The Pretoria conference, hosted in partnership with the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council, was planned in anticipation of the International Labour and Employment Relations Association World Congress in 2015.
The summit is aimed at bringing together people involved in labour relations and human resources. It will look at collective bargaining in the public service against domestic and international trends.