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Wage negotiations are a complex tactical game in which two sides push the boundaries of what is achievable for those whose interests they represent. Some unionists describe it as a chess match in which they are trying to win the best deal for their members.

The announcement by the National Treasury last week that it wanted to review the 2018 wage deal for civil servants, and reduce the wage bill by R160bn over three years, should be seen as an opening gambit in the next round of public sector wage talks, expected to begin later this year...

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