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Civil servants face many battles ahead

National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) members demanding that the wage increase agreement between the government and public servants is honoured. File image.
National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) members demanding that the wage increase agreement between the government and public servants is honoured. File image.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE/SOWETAN

As a public sector worker I felt the blow when the Constitutional Court ruled against the implementation of the 2018 agreement. This agreement was debated and consciously signed by all role players at the bargaining council. The state, as the employer, understood that by signing this agreement there were going to be financial implications.

And to cry foul later was disingenuous and provocative. It may look like workers have lost but equally the employer (state) has lost too. This is because the state had a moral obligation to honour the agreement, and it was not wise or strategic for it to seek relief from the courts because this approach had the potential to destroy the relevance of bargaining councils.

This is a bad precedent set by the employer because nothing will prevent the state from approaching the courts every time there’s a dispute about salaries. The state as the biggest employer must avoid applying divide and rule tactics or divide society.

Workers are members of society and society looks up to workers for hope. This tactic applied by the employer was indicative of the nationalist regime… divide and rule.

But what are the lessons learnt from this ruling? In my view, the three-year term agreement must be done away with, the bargaining councils need to be respected and strengthened and the state must do everything in its power to support bargaining councils.

This disappointment of public sector workers should give Cosatu a new thinking and to go back to the drawing board. I fully agree with Cosatu deputy president Mike Shingange when he said the state should have renegotiated instead of running to the ConCourt.

The workers cannot be made sacrificial lambs of the state for failing to honour and implement agreements and workers must never accept this capitalist tendency.

Yes, we are disappointed as public sector workers by this ruling but there’s no time to nurse broken hearts. The Struggle must continue as there are many battles ahead. Aluta continua.

Mthetheleli Mandla, Krugersdorp

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