PSA plans to institute contempt of court proceedings against Sassa after negotiations break down

2018-07-19 15:54
Sassa head office. (Alet Pretorius, Gallo Images)

Sassa head office. (Alet Pretorius, Gallo Images)

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The Public Servants Association (PSA) has announced its decision to proceed with a contempt of court application against the minister of social development, following an apparent breakdown in negotiations.

The PSA alleges that South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) failed to table a counter offer to the PSA’s demands, which includes a single-term contract and a salary increase of between 13% and 15%.

"The PSA consulted with its legal team and it was decided to proceed with an urgent contempt of court application against the minister of social development," PSA deputy general manager Tahir Maepa said.

"The PSA has approached the Labour Court for a date for the matter to be heard as soon as possible."

Negotiations in the Sassa National Bargaining Forum resumed on July 11, after Judge Hamilton Cele of the Johannesburg Labour Court ordered parties to do so.

Read: Court dismisses Sassa bid to stop strike with costs

The PSA was dissatisfied with Sassa's written response, which advised the union to only negotiate matters that fell outside the minister of public service and administration's powers - remuneration and service conditions.

"The PSA stated that, based on the response by the employer, it clearly is not willing to negotiate on the issues contained in the court order and that in the PSA’s view, the employer is in contempt of court," a PSA statement said.

"The PSA also reiterated its demands and afforded the employer an opportunity to table a counter-offer, failing which, the PSA will have no other option than to institute contempt of court proceedings. The employer, however, indicated that its position will not change."

'PSA resorted to threats of legal action'

Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi said the PSA’s allegations were "unjustified".

He pointed out that, in terms of section 7(2) of the Sassa Act, the minister of public service, in consultation with the ministers of social development and finance, must determine the remuneration and service conditions for the CEO and other employees of Sassa.

The determination was duly made by the public service minister, and Sassa issued a circular to employees informing them that it would be implementing the determination.

"The reality is that Sassa is legally unauthorised to negotiate on certain demands due to the determination made by the minister of public service in 2006 already," Letsatsi said.

Read more: 'We are paid peanuts,' says striking Sassa employee

"Sassa is always willing to negotiate Sassa-specific issues falling outside of the determination of the minister of public service, namely: leave provisions, no work no pay, and insourcing of some services. Unfortunately, the PSA chose not to engage on these issues and resorted to threats of legal action."

He added that Sassa required all hands on deck, as it was in the process of replacing Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) with the South African Post Office.

"We should avoid being bogged down by positions that defy logic, and get distracted from the critical work of servicing the poor," Letsatsi advised.

He urged the PSA to return to negotiations and "engage on the issues falling outside the minister’s determination without any further waste of time".

Read more on:    sassa  |  courts

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