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Public servants preparing for strike after rejecting government’s offer

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
The Public Servants Association is preparing to strike after the majority of its members rejected the government's latest wage offer. Stock photo.
The Public Servants Association is preparing to strike after the majority of its members rejected the government's latest wage offer. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/ANDRIY POPOV

The Public Servants Association (PSA) says it is preparing for a strike in the public service after the majority of its members rejected the government’s salary increase offer. 

The PSA, which represents more than 235,000 public servants, declared a dispute when the government made an offer of a 2% salary increase. The government later improved the offer to a 3% pensionable salary adjustment, and the continued payment of the non-pensionable cash gratuity of R1,000 until March 31 next year.

“The PSA requested a mandate from its members to accept or reject the offer, resulting in a rejection of the offer by the majority of members who provided a mandate,” the PSA said.

The union said the law stipulates that unless there was a collective agreement binding on the trade union that regulates picketing, the commissioner conciliating the dispute must attempt to secure an agreement between parties to the dispute on rules that should apply to any picket in relation to that strike.

“It is therefore important for the PSA to comply with the Labour Relations Act and have picketing rules in place before filing a notice of a strike. The PSA attended a meeting today where constructive engagement took place on the proposed draft picketing rules.”

The union said parties will convene next Monday to conclude on the rules, failing which the commissioner will issue picketing rules. The PSA will thereafter issue a notice to strike and commence with lunchtime pickets in support of a strike.  

“Despite government indicating that the offer is now ‘off the table’ and that it will not reopen negotiations on the current offer, the PSA maintains that the pending huge strike action will prompt government to reconsider its position.”

The union said it has been more than three years since public servants received a salary increase while the costs of food, electricity, petrol and transport have escalated.

“The PSA, however, remains willing to engage government to resolve the impasse.”

In a statement last week, acting public service and administration minister Thulas Nxesi and finance minister Enoch Godongwana said the employer’s current and final offer stands at 7.5%. They said it is structured as a continuation of the current non-pensionable cash allowance of R1,000 (4.5%) for this financial year across all salary levels and a pensionable increase of 3% across the board.

“Under the current fiscal position of government, this is a generous offer by government to all public servants,” they said.

The ministers said the wage bill has grown faster than economic growth over many years. “Despite this, we have continued to ensure that public servants are reasonably cushioned against the rising cost of living without crowding out social expenditure. It is a difficult balancing act.”

TimesLIVE


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