Union turns up heat on Malusi Gigaba over PIC
The finance minister has replied to the trade union’s request to explain board appointments
The Public Service Association (PSA) says it is pushing ahead with its planned court action against Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba over requested disclosures on the board appointment processes at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
This is despite Gigaba having replied to the trade union’s request for explanations on the application of the Public Investment Corporation Act when appointing board members.
In a letter seen by Business Day, Gigaba wrote of his plans to meet public sector trade unions in January to discuss the governance issues at the PIC. He explained that the decision emanated from briefings by all involved parties to the standing committee on finance.
The parliamentary meetings considered proposals for the measures that could be adopted to safeguard the independence of the PIC and ensure it did not fall victim to state capture.
This took place as unions pushed for representation at the PIC in order to influence investment choices with the aim of ensuring workers benefited.
However, the response by Gigaba did not tackle the specific issues raised in the letter of demand sent to him last week, the PSA’s deputy general manager, Tahir Maepa, said.
Should the court action be launched next week as threatened by the PSA, Gigaba could find himself up against a number of public sector unions that have, according to Maepa, expressed interest in joining the PSA’s litigation.
Public sector unions are currently seeking ways to protect workers’ pension funds in light of fears the Treasury could use them for other purposes, including the bail-out of struggling state-owned companies.
The PSA, which represents 230,000 public servants, has filed an access to information request for consultations held between Gigaba or his predecessors and the Cabinet when determining who should sit on the PIC board.
Maepa said the union would not boycott Gigaba’s January meeting but it would not back down on its demands over the PIC board appointments.
"The demand letter still stands and if he does not give us a positive response by next week, we will have no choice but to launch the court action," Maepa said.
Meanwhile, the public sector unions interested in joining the court action will be meeting on Wednesday.
Although Maepa said that the PSA had no undertaking from Cosatu unions to join the action, the federation of unions told journalists last week that it intended launching a campaign "to take control of workers’ retirement savings".