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The government clinched a three-year wage agreement with its 1.3-million workers when six unions affiliated to the ANC agreed to its terms, averting the risk of a national strike. The deal will see public servants getting raises of 6%-7% for the year to the end of March 2019 and by as much as one percentage point more than the consumer inflation rate for the following two years. The conclusion of the pay talks after 10 months of negotiations is a boon for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is under pressure from investors and ratings companies to stick to budget-deficit targets. Containing the salary bill is essential if the Treasury is to meet its target of trimming the budget deficit to 3.6% of GDP in the next fiscal year, from 4.3% in 2018. Besides securing inflation-beating increases, the unions won a number of concessions, including an agreement from the government that it would not freeze vacant posts, Mugwena Maluleke, the Cosatu unions’ lead negotiator, told reporters in Johanne...

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