Unions turn to Zuma

2010-07-17 11:14

Cosatu-aligned unions in the public service are calling on

President Jacob Zuma to intervene to break a deadlock in wage ­negotiations

­before thousands of teachers, nurses and police officers strike next

month.

The spokesperson for the National ­Education, Health and Allied

­Workers’ Union, Sizwe Sephamla, said: “We are looking for political

­intervention hopefully before the end of this week. Everything needs to be

sorted out to avert a strike.

“The unions would rather settle the matter at the bargaining

­chamber than with the team of ­politicians we have been negotiating

with.”

His comments came in the wake of this week’s collapsed negotiations

with government leaders that ­included Public Service and ­Administration

Minister Richard Baloyi and Minister of Basic ­Education ­Angie Motshekga.

The unions are demanding an 8.5% wage increase and for ­members’

housing allowance to be doubled to R1 000.

Government is offering a 6.2% salary adjustment and R110 increase

in the housing subsidy.

The unions are also trying to force government to backdate the

pending wage increase to April, while ­government wants adjustments to ­commence

from the next pay date.

Should government and unions fail to find an amicable solution,

this could lead to a strike that could ­cripple the public sector and disrupt

other government institutions such as the SA Revenue Service, which is in the

process of collecting income tax from individuals.

Entrepreneurs might also find it difficult to register new

businesses as the administrative staff of ­the Companies and Intellectual

­Property Registration Office would also down tools.

Public and Allied Workers’ Union of SA general secretary Gavin Jood

said workers felt betrayed by ­government’s latest offer.

He said: “We have consulted ­widely with our members and they are

very angry about the response of the employer.”

Jood said the union’s members were considering what action to take

against the employer as they were ­severely burnt when they embarked on a strike

in 2007.

If the employer and workers fail to reach consensus, unions

affiliated to Cosatu will look to the federation to propose the way

­forward.

The general secretary of the National Union of Public Services and

Allied Workers, Success ­Mataisane, said 95% of members had ­voted for

industrial action.

National Union of Public Services and Allied Workers has 30 000

members and is a Cosatu affiliate.

Mataisane said that from this week, the union would wait to hear

from Cosatu unions on whether they should join forces in a strike action.

He said: “We have agreed with all the public sector unions that we

would go on a joint industrial action. And if government remains defiant, the

strike will take place in the first week of next month. There is no way we will

end up settling for less.”

The spokesperson for the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South

Africa, Asanda Fongqo, said they would consult their 70 000 members before

deciding to embark on a strike.

He said: “As things stand, we have rejected government’s mediocre

­offer and declared a dispute. But our doors are still open 24 hours a day

should government want to bring a decent offer to the table.”


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