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There will always be posturing by both sides going into pay negotiations, and this year’s public-sector pay talks have begun with predictably tough talk.

The National Treasury has forcibly reminded the unions that public sector wages cannot continue to grow at rates that crowd out other government spending and drive up the public debt. It budgeted for wage growth of only  1.8% on average over the next three years, and made it clear that it set aside R20bn to cover the increase this year. Cosatu came come back demanding a 10% increase, which EWN reports is estimated to cost more than double or even triple what’s in the budget...

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