Cosatu slams 5% pay rise for ministers

2010-11-14 13:58

President Jacob Zuma’s decision to hike the pay of public office bearers by 5% has drawn criticism from labour federation ­Cosatu.

Even though Judge Willie ­Seriti’s commission had proposed a 7% pay hike for office ­bearers – from the president down to members of Parliament – Zuma approved an increase that was 200 basis points lower than the commission had recommended.

This means Zuma’s salary will increase from R2 254 730 to R2 367 467.

The salaries of ministers will rise to R1 811 141, while their deputies will now get R1 491 513.

On Friday Zuma approved the increases and backdated them to April 1.

However, Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini said the increases were inconsistent with government’s call for a social pact to curb the growth of wages to encourage economic growth.

During the 16-day public servants’ strike the labour federation had called on public representatives and top bureaucrats not to accept a wage increase in solidarity with low-earners in the civil service.

“It is worrisome. It is a problem actually because it undermines what they have been saying all this time. Five percent is far too much because it is two bars above inflation currently.

“They should stop criticising workers for wanting higher salaries if they want higher salaries themselves. It is unacceptable. The wage gap will continue to grow,” Dlamini said.

He said the president, ministers and MPs should have taken an increase in line with the prevailing inflation rate.

“We shall continue making the call for leaders to maintain lifestyles that are commensurate with their supporters because it is a moral call. They must live a life that speaks to those realities,” Dlamini said.

Zuma did not explain why he had implemented less than the recommended increase, but a statement from his office said he had considered the commission’s proposal and “other relevant factors” before making his decision.

It is the second consecutive year in which Zuma has implemented salary increases that are less than those that were recommended by the commission.

Last year he raised the pay of public office bearers by 7% rather than the proposed 8%.

Seriti warned that public representatives would fall behind the market if this continued, and said the commission would be forced to propose a major review of ­“remuneration levels”.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was likely to get the same salary as Zuma because of his erstwhile position as president. Seriti said Motlanthe was ­legally entitled to his presidential pension – which is equivalent to the pay a sitting president gets – from the day after he had left office.

Currently he gets a deputy president’s salary of R2 130 769.

“The commission recommends that the current deputy president shall receive the pension benefits of a former president only and no salary for his services as deputy president, except those benefits and privileges which are necessary to carry out his functions,” Seriti said.

Harold Maloka, a spokesperson for the presidency, would not say when Zuma would decide on the matter.

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