News24

State invites labour back to table

2012-06-19 15:08

Pretoria - 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."

Wage dispute declared

The government made a final offer of a 6.5% increase last week. Labour is demanding an 8% 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 9% - 6.5% increase on salary and 2.5% increase on benefits.

The Treasury had budgeted for only 5%, she said.

"Government [is] in a situation where 9% 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.