Public sector wage offer rejected by four unions
After eight months of talks, many employees refuse to sign deal finalised in bargaining council
More public sector employees could still reject the wage offer that was finalised by unions and employers in the Public Sector Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) on Friday.
Four unions, with close to 40% representation, on Monday confirmed their members had rejected the offer, while others were still seeking mandates.
The PSCBC announced the end of wage negotiations on Friday after eight months of talks. Although a signing ceremony was scheduled for Monday, it was only the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) that signed the deal, with other Cosatu unions likely to follow suit on Tuesday.
The proposed agreement will secure employees pay increases of 6% to 7% for 2018-19. The government has also offered to hike wages by the consumer price index (CPI) plus 1% to CPI for the successive two years.
Organised labour was demanding CPI plus 2% for the lowest levels and CPI plus 1% for the highest, while it set its CPI calculation at 5.5%.
The deal also comes with extra increases for teachers and police officials, among others, who will benefit from the equalisation of pay progression across the public service at 1.5% per annum.
The delinking of housing allowances for spouses was also secured by labour unions, which described the demand as a “deal-breaker” at the start of talks. The government’s consolidated wage bill is projected to expand by an annual average of 7.3% over the next three financial years. SA’s wage bill accounts for 35% of the R1.67-trillion national budget in 2018 and consumes 14% of GDP.
The Public Servants Association (PSA), the National Teachers’ Union, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA and the Hospital Personnel Association of SA (Hospersa) told Business Day their members had rejected the offer and had no intention of signing it.
Hospersa called on the government to table a fair wage offer that would address the “challenges faced by public service employees in a tough economy with the recent VAT [value-added tax] increase”.
The PSA appealed to other unions to reject the draft agreement as it was “not worth the paper it’s written on”.
The biggest public sector union, the National Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), was still engaging with its members on Monday.
Sources said the deal was proving “difficult to sell” to some Nehawu members.
Although the draft agreement will lapse in 21 days, the government will be able to implement it unilaterally after 30 days.