Public sector talks lead to real threat of national strike

Waghied Misbach and Zinhle Maphumulo

Waghied Misbach and Zinhle Maphumulo

Eight months of protracted negotiations between government and labour have not produced any results or any indication of a possible solution.

This week public service unions led by Cosatu announced their intention to launch a full-scale strike on May 28 that could involve more than one million civil servants abandoning their posts.

The government has stuck to its offer of a 6percent wage increase against the 12percent demanded by the unions.

The government has claimed that if it were to accept the unions' demands, they would cost it a whopping R198billion as opposed to only R9,3billion based on the 6percent on offer.

The public sector unions started negotiations in October last year but have complained that the government only replied to them in January. There have since been five rounds of negotiations with little headway being made.

Cosatu's eight unions comprise 60percent of the public service workforce. The rest of the workforce are members of the Federation of Unions of South Africa and the Public Service Association.

Though Popcru members are yet to decide their position on the strike, Popcru spokes- man Pat Ntsobi said police, prison and traffic officers were underpaid and could not settle for the 6percent increase offered by the government.

Other independent unions are to be canvassed on their support for a strike.