Civil service pay rise demand is ridiculous

2014-11-17 00:00

Absurd and ridiculous.

This is how economists describe the combined 15% salary increase by civil service unions.

The demand, which was made to the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) last week, includes a 28,5% increase in contributions towards medical the Gems scheme.

Economic advisor at PwC, Dr Roelof Botha, said the government’s salaries already amount to R400 billion or a third of the state’s total expenses of R1,2 billion.

Botha said it seems the unions did not listen to the speech by the minister van finance, Nhlanhla Nene, last month. Nene said he needs to cut R44 billion somewhere to place South Africa’s government finances on a better footing.

“He said salary increases will have to take into account the low growth rate and high government debt. There is no space for this type of increase when the rate of inflation is under six percent. It seems greedy and in a nutshell, absurd,” said Botha.

Chief economist at the Efficient group Dawie Roodt said a 15% increase will lead to another down grading of SA’s international credit rating, which will lead to a weaker rand, higher interest rates and inflation

On top of this, the taxpayer will be taxed more for the civil servants — who are already overpaid in terms of their productivity. It is ridiculous,” Roodt said. He added the next round of negotiations will be a test for President Jacob Zuma, with the main question whether Zuma will back his finance minister or side with Cosatu.

General secretary for the National Professional Teachers’ Organisa­tion of South Africa (Naptosa), Henry Hendriks, said the cost of living has increased so drastically in South Africa in view of the sharp increases in electricity, food and e-tol, that 15% is a realistic claim.

CEO of teachers’ union SAOU said the formula used over the past eight years, namely the consumer price index plus 1,6%, is no longer enough.

He said civil servants were not blind to economic realities, but they could not carry the expected saving alone.

Nicolaas Coetzee for the Academic and Professional Personnel Association of Unisa (Apsa) said the demand by the civil servants was “not at all ridiculous”.

He said the state is turning a blind eye to poverty and expects its staff to be satisfied with “crumbs from its table while uncountable amounts are being wasted”.

The government has not yet answered the PSCBC’s demand.

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