Parliament workers get a 9% raise

2015-07-09 13:46

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Employees of Parliament successfully negotiated a 9% raise for themselves amid opposition parties’ concerns over how the increases will be funded. 

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, which represents the majority of workers at Parliament, initially wanted a 12.5% increase, but welcomed the 9%. 

Some opposition parties said that the actual problem was not necessarily how much employees get paid but how Parliament’s staff were distributed and whether it improved efficiency. 

Parliament’s salary bill for administration in this financial year already stands at R445 million. 

Nehawu spokesperson at Parliament, Sthembiso Tembe, said that employees’ salaries were too low compared with public servants in government departments who also received more benefits. “We work hard. We deserve every cent.” 

Nehawu members at Parliament had lunchtime pickets over the last few months demanding a 12,5% increase. 

The union last year also threatened to disrupt the state of the nation address over grievances about conditions of service and salaries. 

In a statement yesterday, Parliament said the two-year agreement meant that workers would get a 9% increase this year and 3% plus inflation next year. The 9% would be “back paid” to April this year. 

The settlement was regarded as an important factor for a stable relationship between Parliament and the union as it would improve efficiency. 

“A number of parliamentary positions which have existed for years without being filled were frozen to fund the adjustment and there will therefore be no extra pressure on the budget to cater for the settlement,” the statement read. 

But Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen said more details were necessary about where the money for the increases would come. 

“The increase is much higher than inflation and Parliament isn’t setting a very good example for inflation targeting. 

“It is time that a proper study is done on the efficiency of the personnel structure. There are many overstaffed departments with far too many people sitting around doing nothing while other important departments, such as the questions office are understaffed and struggling to cope with the demand. On any given day in some offices it looks as if there is a world championship in Solitaire happening.” 

Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip Narend Singh said anything that could help Parliament be more efficient should be welcomed. 

“We need to ensure that Parliament functions properly and have the right resources. Happy employees can help with that.” 

ANC spokesperson in Parliament, Moloto Mothapo, could not comment immediately. 

The increases meant that a researcher who earned about R500 000 a year would now pocket around R2 500 more. 

According to the statement, a process was under way to review Parliament’s entire remuneration and reward system to enable the institution to attract suitable and qualified professionals from across the country.

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