State drags its feet on wage of­fer de­ci­sion

CityPress - - Business - LE­SETJA MALOPE le­setja.malope@city­press.co.za

Gov­ern­ment this week re­mained tightlipped on its ne­go­ti­a­tion po­si­tion de­spite de­lay­ing the pub­lic service wage talks by more than three weeks.

The depart­ment of pub­lic service and ad­min­is­tra­tion, which rep­re­sents gov­ern­ment in wage talks, has said it was still pon­der­ing its of­fi­cial po­si­tion re­gard­ing the long list of de­mands already sub­mit­ted by labour unions last month.

Pub­lic Service and Ad­min­is­tra­tion Min­is­ter Faith Muthambi’s spokesper­son, Pfarelo Maduguma, said: “The em­ployer is still busy with the in­ter­nal pro­cesses re­lat­ing to col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing is­sues as tabled by labour. Once com­pleted, the em­ployer will go back to the for­mal ne­go­ti­at­ing pro­cesses at the Pub­lic Service Co­or­di­nat­ing Bar­gain­ing Coun­cil.”

Gov­ern­ment post­poned the over­due ne­go­ti­a­tions at the eleventh hour last month, cit­ing a lack of prepa­ra­tion.

The unions are de­mand­ing wage hikes of up to 12% and a num­ber of other perks.

This is in di­rect op­po­si­tion to the medium-term bud­getary pol­icy state­ment doc­u­ments that Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba un­veiled last month, which re­fer to the fi­nan­cial year end­ing March 2018 to the fi­nan­cial year end­ing March 2021. Gov­ern­ment is fore­cast­ing an av­er­age in­crease in wages of 7.3%.

In the bud­get state­ment, Gi­gaba said that gov­ern­ment fi­nances would de­te­ri­o­rate sub­stan­tially if the pub­lic service wage talks led to an agree­ment that ex­ceeded con­sumer price in­fla­tion.

“Strains and im­bal­ances within the pub­lic fi­nances may be­come more pro­nounced. The pub­lic sec­tor wage bill has in­creas­ingly crowded out other spend­ing and lim­ited gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to in­crease pub­lic em­ploy­ment,” the bud­get doc­u­ment said.

“A new civil service wage agree­ment in which salary in­creases ex­ceed con­sumer price in­fla­tion, and with­out head­count re­duc­tions, would ren­der the current ex­pen­di­ture lim­its dif­fi­cult to achieve.”

Labour’s de­mands in­clude a call for the Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PIC) to cre­ate a hous­ing in­vest­ment port­fo­lio that will di­rectly in­vest in hous­ing schemes. The rea­son for this is that the PIC has a di­ver­si­fied port­fo­lio and some of its in­vest­ments do not have a di­rect ben­e­fit to the own­ers of the funds while they are still in service.

The PIC already has a R10.5 bil­lion in­vest­ment in SA Home Loans to fa­cil­i­tate hous­ing fi­nance for qual­i­fy­ing gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees and mem­bers of the pub­lic, but the unions said the de­mand was specif­i­cally aimed at in­ter­est-free loans.

Other de­mands tabled by the unions in­clude that the chil­dren of pub­lic ser­vants who at­tend higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions must be granted bur­saries or be sub­sidised, and for pay pro­gres­sion to be al­lowed beyond the top notches of salary lev­els.

Mean­while, the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion for the Re­mu­ner­a­tion of Pub­lic Of­fice Bear­ers has rec­om­mended that a 4% wage in­crease be given to min­is­ters, MECs and deputy min­is­ters, as well as to the speak­ers of Par­lia­ment and of pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tures, the chair­per­son of the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces and all judges.

A wage hike of 4.5% was rec­om­mended for mem­bers of Par­lia­ment and pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tures, the chief whip of the ma­jor­ity party, per­ma­nent mem­bers of the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces, the deputy speaker of pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tures, ex­ec­u­tive may­ors and deputy may­ors, as well as for tra­di­tional kings and queens.

Mem­bers of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ ex­ec­u­tive coun­cils and chief whips, as well as chair­per­sons of tra­di­tional au­thor­i­ties, would get a 5% in­crease.

The com­mis­sion fur­ther rec­om­mended that a 6% wage in­crease be given to mag­is­trates, coun­cil­lors and all mem­bers of the Na­tional House of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers, while an 8% in­crease should be given to se­nior tra­di­tional lead­ers.

Head­men and head­women are tipped to get R106 106 and an ex­ten­sion of their med­i­cal aid benefits, part of which will be sub­sidised by the state.

What do you think a fair wage in­crease would be for civil ser­vants?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word WAGE and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

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