State invites labour back to table

By Drum Digital
19 June 2012

Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Tuesday that the government wants to invite labour back to the negotiating table.

"They will be surprised that I have no horns and there is no devil in me," Sisulu told reporters in Pretoria.

"It is in their interest that we find an amicable solution."

She said that, on average, seven months a year were spent negotiating.

"I don't believe this is right."

Sisulu said a service charter was needed which would deal with, among other things, salary increases based on performance.

The charter would be necessary for the government to function properly.

"We cannot go on like this with a wage bill that is unaffordable."

The government made a final offer of a 6.5 percent increase last week. Labour is demanding an eight percent increase and has declared a wage dispute.

Sisulu said she came into the job of public service minister the day the final offer was made.

President Jacob Zuma moved Sisulu from defence to public service during a Cabinet reshuffle last week.

Sisulu said the total amount the state was offering was a nine percent increase -- 6.5 percent increase on salary and 2.5 percent increase on benefits.

The Treasury had budgeted for only five percent, she said.

"Government [is] in a situation where nine percent is way above what it has budgeted for.

"After a series of negotiations, we are at a point where we can influence and talk to labour so that we can find each other," she said.

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