Sunday Tribune


Strike still on the cards over public servants’ salary increase


COSATU’S biggest affiliate is not backing down from its refusal to campaign for the ANC ahead of this year’s local government elections due to the government’s failure to increase public servants’ salaries.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) will stick to its resolution despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plea on Workers’ Day to the country’s leading trade union federation that among the tripartite alliance’s immediate tasks was developing a common platform around mobilising and winning the municipal polls set for October 27.

Ramaphosa also indicated that another task for the alliance was to resolve the public service wage negotiatio­ns impasse.

The ANC’S national working committee this week also supported Ramaphosa’s call for the alliance’s long-standing assistance with campaignin­g for the elections as well as resolving the public servants’

wage dispute with the government.

Ramaphosa blamed the impact of the country’s precarious economic situation for the failure to finalise the wage agreement more than three months after public servants tabled their 4% plus the

consumer price index, which Cosatu puts at 3.1%. However, Nehawu spokespers­on Khaya Xaba told Independen­t Media that the union’s decision not to campaign for the ANC still stands while the 2017 national congress resolution to vote for the governing party can only be reviewed by a similar gathering scheduled for October this year.

According to Xaba, Nehawu and its members are cash strapped due to the government’s failure to implement the last leg of 2018 Public Service Coordinati­ng Bargaining Council (PSCBC) wage agreement.

The dispute over the 2018 deal will now be settled by the Constituti­onal Court, which in August will hear arguments in the public service unions’ appeal of the December 2020 Labour Appeal Court ruling declaring the agreement unlawful as it contravene­d the Constituti­on and the Public Service Regulation­s.

Political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, of the University of the Western Cape, advised the government to go back to what was agreed to in the 2018 deal to buy time and allow emotions to subside.

Mngomezulu believes not honouring the agreement will benefit neither the government nor the unions.

However, he also warned that sidelining Cosatu’s public sector unions would mean snubbing a significan­t portion of the governing party’s voters, campaigner­s and sympathise­rs.

”The onus is on the ANC to put its house in order as workers form a huge chunk of the electorate,” explained Mngomezulu.

The warnings to the ANC come as some of the unions, representi­ng 1.2 million public servants, appear divided over the next course of action at the negotiatin­g table as their employer has stalled tabling any significan­t offer since March.

The eight unions, which represent state employees in national and provincial government department­s, include Cosatu affiliates – Nehawu, SA Democratic Teachers Union, Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union and Democratic Nursing Organisati­on of SA – are largely still in favour of the facilitati­on proposed by the government.

However, the Public Servants Associatio­n (PSA), which is affiliated to the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) like the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA and the National Profession­al Teachers’ Organisati­on of SA, looks set to abandon the negotiatin­g table and declare a dispute.

The PSA felt that the independen­t facilitati­on process to break the deadlock proposed by the government on Monday, just as the unions had planned to file a dispute jointly, would cause further delays.

The union has publicly indicated to its over 235 000 members to prepare for industrial action if they want to secure a decent salary increase and protect existing negotiated benefits.

Osborne Molatudi, Molatudi Attorneys managing director and employment law specialist, said the length of negotiatio­ns depended on a stipulated timeline and parties at a bargaining council were obliged to meet it.

He said negotiatio­ns should commence and be completed within a reasonable time.

The number of issues on the table also determined the length of negotiatio­ns in cases where it is not only a salary dispute, according to Molatudi.

“The more complex and complicate­d the issues are, the longer the negotiatio­ns will be,” he warned.

The Fedusa affiliates will be joined by the SA Policing Union (Sapu), the only affiliate of the SA Federation of Trade Unions with PSCBC bargaining rights, and has expressed its unhappines­s with the current wage negotiatio­ns, even accusing the government of negotiatin­g in bad faith.

Sapu general secretary Tumelo Mogodiseng said the government was solely blaming public servants for its financial woes.

“We do not want to waste any time (with facilitati­on). We will be declaring a dispute,” explained Mogodiseng.

He insisted that Sapu was not going to be part of the facilitati­on process as the government was playing games with its employees.

According to Mogodiseng, the fact that the government has not placed any tangible offer before the PSCBC showed that it did not care about the sacrifices made by public servants during the Covid-19 pandemic and when the cost of living is spiralling out of control.

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi has accused the government of trying to dump the bill for corruption on nurses who earn R186 000 a year.

”It is politician­s, their friends and family who have destroyed our stateowned enterprise­s. It is business which has robbed the SA Revenue Service of billions (of rands) ... This is the height of immorality.”

 ??  ??
 ?? Reuters ?? COSATU President Zingiswa Losi. | SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI Africannew­s Agency ANA
Main Picture: Protesters attend a demonstrat­ion in Johannesbu­rg organised by the Congress of South African Trade Unions in 2017. Cosatu is pushing for a nationwide strike to protest against corruption. |
Reuters COSATU President Zingiswa Losi. | SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI Africannew­s Agency ANA Main Picture: Protesters attend a demonstrat­ion in Johannesbu­rg organised by the Congress of South African Trade Unions in 2017. Cosatu is pushing for a nationwide strike to protest against corruption. |

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa