Unions reject govt’s latest wage offer

2010-09-02 10:10

Striking public service unions have rejected the government’s latest wage offer without knowing its details, an official has said.

“(Minister of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi) started communicating the offer to the public before we even went to our members,” National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) spokesperson Sizwe Phamla said yesterday.

Cosatu leaders, he said, should not have gone to media and discuss the offer as “they would have never been given enough time to explain the entire thing”.

The union had received cellphone text messages from its members saying they rejected the government’s new wage offer, without knowing its details.

“Some leaders used media reports and made pronouncements,” it said.

The government was offering a 7.5% wage increase and R800 monthly housing allowance. The strike enters its 15th day today.

Phamla added that the government had also committed to setting up a housing scheme for its workers as part of the deal.

Yesterday evening, Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi announced unions had rejected the offer.

“The overwhelming majority (of Cosatu unions) have rejected the offer,” Vavi told etv’s news channel.

Phamla said as a result of the “flawed process” of informing members, union leaders were given until tomorrow to go to all regions and “thoroughly” explain what government was offering.

“We were naive in giving ourselves one day (to decide).”

He said the government had explained it did not have enough money to implement what the workers wanted, but gave “timelines and deadlines” on how it would implement the proposed housing scheme.

“Tomorrow (Thursday) we are dispatching a team which will thoroughly explain the offer, so that our members can know what they are rejecting.

“The fundamental issue is the one of housing ownership, when we got to PSCBC (the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council) our demand was R2 000 housing allowance), we came down to R1 000, which means that R1 000 was already a compromise.”

Phamla said negotiators looked at “fundamental issues” during yesterday’s PSCBC meeting.

“A strike creates its own demands. We have to ensure that when members get what they want they are protected (from salary deductions and disciplinary action).”

SA Democratic Teacher’s Union (Sadtu) spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said the union had explained the details of the strike to its members.

“Our members have looked at the detailed offer and they rejected it. But we will continue to engage with government.”

She said Sadtu members still wanted to get their original 8.6% wage increase demand and R1 000 monthly housing allowance.

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