I followed Tito Mboweni’s budget speech carefully, particularly the ways he proposes to cut the public sector wage bill. He specifically said government “tabled an agenda item on the management of the public service wage bill at the public service co-ordinating bargaining council”. 

This merely means the finance ministry has asked that an item be placed on the bargaining council’s agenda for deliberation some time in future. There is no indication when this will be debated, and no certainty that it will be accepted.

On the strength of that statement, Mboweni was hoping to appease the international community, but it is not so easily fooled.

A possible agenda item at some unspecified date in future means absolutely nothing.

In light of the trade unions’ negative response to the idea, we can expect nothing to happen at all.

Mboweni went on to state that the government “will propose a new law to stop excessive salaries in these public entities”. Once again this is pie in the sky, and even if the intention is there we know from experience that legislation sometimes takes up to a decade to be passed.

If we rely on ministerial statements the country could go down the sewer before there is any action.

Michael Bagraim, MP
DA deputy employment & labour spokesperson

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