Cosatu public sector unions to declare dispute

2012-07-11 11:20

Cosatu public sector unions say they will approach the coordinator of the public sector bargaining council to declare a dispute after their wage negotiations with government collapsed last night.

The unions involved in the negotiations include the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, the National Health and Allied Workers Union and the SA Medical Association.

The unions’ chief negotiator, Mugwena Maluleke, said the five-month long negotiations reached a stalemate after government went back on its latest offer of 6.9%.

“Cosatu-affiliated unions, representing over 58% the country’s public service, are of the view that the employer is negotiating in bad faith and is not interested in settling this current round of negotiations amicably,” he said.

The unions are demanding a pay increase of 7.9% and a housing allowance of R1 400 per month, while the employer is offering 6.7% and a housing allowance of R900.

However, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has reiterated her commitment to the negotiations.

In a statement issued by her spokesperson, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, Sisulu said the two parties were close to a settlement.

“We remain committed to finding a solution as soon as possible. We are negotiating a multi-year agreement within very limited resources, it can be frustrating at times,” she said.

Maluleke said they would lodge a dispute with the coordinator of the bargaining council this afternoon, which could result in strike action if the dispute is not resolved within 30 days.

It is not clear whether a future strike would affect essential services, but Maluleke said a certificate of non-settlement would “clarify” what would happen to essential services workers.

Sisulu said she had requested a meeting with labour, saying it was in everyone’s interest not to pull out of the bargaining council.

The last widespread public servants’ strike was in 2010.

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