Supporters of the government who are trying to deflect blame for the current problems in the distribution of social security (Sassa) payments to labour are disingenuous and possibly dishonest, says Public Servants Association (PSA) general manager Ian Fredericks. In an interview today, he maintained that the blame for what has happened should be placed with the government and, in particular, the former social development minister, Bathabile Dlamini.Fredericks pointed out that the problems related to payments had noting to do with Sassa workers, members of PSA, who are on strike. They were the "backroom people" who ensured that all the basic work was done. Payment of grants was outsourced, in this case moving increasingly to the Post Office.Sassa workers had ensured that all the necessary work was done up to the payments. Yet, at the time, they were still being denied pay negotiations by the new minister, Susan Shabangu. Shabangu has refused to negotiate with the PSA that represents Sassaworkers, arguing that they are part of the public service and should, therefore, be bound by the recent — and bitterly disputed — majority wage deal struck within the Public Sector Bargaining Council (PSBC).However, Sassa is an anomaly: workers in this sector do not fall under the PSBC. "So we have the right to negotiate separately," says PSA negotiator, Tahir Maepa. The problem, he agrees, is that a separate, perhaps better deal, for Sassa could create discontent within the ANC-affiliated Cosatu unions who agreed to the earlier PSBC deal.As far as the PSA is concerned, the deal struck with the majority of unions in the PSBC can be "brought to the table" by Shabangu. It is a three-year agreement allowing for a 7% pay rise this year, followed by 6.5% and 6% in following years.In response, PSA wold almost certainly table a demand for a one-year agreement for a 10% pay rise. "But we are open to negotiations," says Maepa.