Signs of new life in wage talks

2010-09-05 10:25

Government is offering an olive branch to essential workers who defied court orders to return to work as part of a sweetened deal to get striking public servants to end their 18-day-old strike.

In addition to its latest offer of a 7.5% wage increase and an R800 housing ­subsidy government has offered that all disciplinary hearings involving essential workers will “stop short of dismissal”.

But by yesterday afternoon, it was still make-or-break. In the pro-strike corner are Sadtu, Nehawu and Popcru, the biggest of the Cosatu-affiliated public service unions, representing 550 000 of South Africa’s 1.3 million public servants.

These unions rejected the government’s latest offer on Wednesday.

In the undecided corner are the Independent Labour Caucus (ILC) of 11 unions representing 460 000 public servants as well as five smaller Cosatu-affiliated public service unions representing about 250 000 public servants.

Their decisions on whether to continue the strike will become known after Cosatu and ILC trade union bosses meet this afternoon to consider government’s offer.

None of the ILC unions had made up their minds about whether to continue the strike, ILC spokesperson Chris Kloppers said on Friday.

They were still in the process of following a procedure worked out by Cosatu and ILC strike bosses to oblige unions to come to a “rational and informed decision”.

Unions involved in the strike spent ­Friday and Saturday guiding members through this process. Nehawu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said this was necessary because the decision of unions to reject the latest offer was based on “incomplete ­information published by the media”.

The procedure designed by union leaders obliges members to familiarise themselves with the complete six-page government ­offer.

It also requires unions to work through a set of questions on future gains to be made from continuing with the strike, the financial position of striking workers and whether the strikers still had the empathy of the public and the media.

Kloppers pointed out that workers wanted to continue the strike because they felt negatively about the situation.

“We wanted to make sure that they take a rational, informed decision,” he said.

Union bosses say the alliance between Cosatu and the ILC has been crucial.

Cosatu heavyweights – Sadtu (240 000 members), Nehawu (200 000) and Popcru (130 000) – will revisit their decision.

The ILC’s biggest union is the Public Servants’ Association with more than 205 000 members. It will be the votes of the big four, jointly representing almost 800 000 of South Africa’s 1.3 million public servants, that will factor heavily in today’s decision.

The unions’ decision will be presented to government at a bargaining council meeting tomorrow.

On the table
This is what unions will consider this weekend
» A 7.5% wage increase;
» An R800 housing subsidy;
» An offer to establish a public service housing scheme giving more public servants access to housing;
» Favourable implementation dates in 2011 (May 1) and 2012 (April 1);
»Establishing a three-member panel tasked with identifying essential public service workers, its findings to be included in 2011’s minimum service level agreements; and
» Mercy for essential workers who defied court orders in the form of an undertaking that disciplinary hearings will not result in dismissals.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.