North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo’s office has denied the provincial government is cutting public servants salaries in 2017, after an outcry by the Congress of South African Trade Unions and one of its affiliates, the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu).

Spokesman Brian Setswambung said the North West government understood salaries were a national competence and could not be negotiated in provinces since SA was not a federal state.

"If an agreement is reached at national [level] our responsibility is to implement it, whether it is about salary cuts or increases," he said.

"We know that once an agreement is reached at that level it is a product of thorough consultation with all stakeholders involved in the terrain."

The backlash from Cosatu and the union followed a report in The New Age newspaper that the province would cut salaries of senior employees as part of its efforts to scale down on expenditure in 2017.

Cosatu on Wednesday "warned" Mahumapelo not to interfere in matters "that are not in his domain".

"We will not allow him or anyone to undermine collective bargaining agreements and violate the Basic Conditions of Employment Act," national spokesman Sizwe Pamla said.

"While we strongly support fiscal prudence and belt tightening, especially by political office bearers, we will never allow any unilateral fiddling and interference with workers’ salaries by the provincial administration," he said.

Nehawu in the North West echoed Cosatu’s sentiments, saying the move to cut salaries would have a negative effect on collective bargaining.

"Our members’ socioeconomic wellbeing cannot be compromised because of the government’s inability to tackle and overcome challenges of maladministration, lavish lifestyle by politicians, poor planning, and corruption, that has produced this unfortunate situation, which has resulted in the depletion of financial resources. Hence Nehawu says it can’t be our members who must pay the price," the union’s provincial secretary, Patrick Makhafane, said.

The North West has reportedly not had a clean audit in five years. The auditor general’s 2014-15 report showed that not one of the province’s municipalities had obtained a clean audit.

Setswambung said the newspaper report to which Cosatu and Nehawu were reacting was a "misrepresentation" of facts.

© Business Day

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