Govt, unions set for war

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

PUBLIC sector unions and the government look set for a major showdown as the two parties are failing to reach agreement over salary increases.

The unions are now threatening to go on strike which might impact negatively on the forthcoming soccer world cup.

Labour declared a dispute last week after government tabled a 5,2 percent salary increment offer at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council in Pretoria. Unions want 11 percent salary increments. Government's new offer now stands at 5,3 percent.

The unions however still see the revised offer as an "insult" by the employer. Success Mataitsane, of the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers, warned that failure to reach an agreement soon could cause public servants, including those in essential services such as the police, nurses and teachers to down tools.

Unions also claim government has refused to consider their demand for an equal subsidy for medical aid and they said the employer was not keen to to discuss demands for improved housing allowances.

Unions want the employer to increase the housing allowance from R500 to R1 650 a month.

The South African Police Union, also raised similar concerns that failure to reach agreement might impact negatively on the world cup. "The tournament means a lot to all of us and we don't want to appear as though we are using it to bargain. We hope it doesn't go as far as members having to go on strike," said the union's secretary Joseph Matam.

South African Democratic Teachers Union spokesperson Nomusa Cembi also described the offer was as "disgraceful".

But the Department of Public Service and Administration spokesperson Dumisani Nkwamba said government was committed to finding a solution. "We believe that whatever the settlement, it must be beneficial to everyone," said Nkwamba.