The ongoing standoff between the labour movement and the government must be resolved urgently. This is critical, given SA’s economic situation.
The issue of the government reneging on the three-year wage agreement with public sector unions should have been handled differently. The government has an obligation to honour the spirit and letter of the agreement. Failure to do that will send the wrong signals to other bargaining councils.
Labour relations regulations allow for an exemption in the event a company can’t afford to pay the wages agreed on in a bargaining council. But there must be compelling reasons for this, including financial disclosures.
The government should also have a compelling reason — particularly when billions of rands are being squandered by government departments, municipalities and state-owned entities.
I believe the government and labour unions, under the auspices of the public service sector bargaining council, should have found an amicable way of resolving the impasse.
I call on labour and the government to return to the negotiating table to resolve the matter. The stakes are too ghastly to contemplate if they don’t.
Mafika Siphiwe Mgcina
ANC Sedibeng task team co-ordinator (writing in his personal capacity)
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