A full-blown crisis looms between the government and its employees as unions emphatically rejected a plea by the state on Tuesday to renege on its pay agreement and freeze wages in the coming year.  

At the first meeting of the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) since the February budget detailed plans to cut the wage bill by R160bn over three years, the largest public-sector union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said it would strike if the cuts go ahead.

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