Supplementary Budget 2020

Mboweni denies negotiating in bad faith in public wage storm

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has rejected claims by critics and public sector unions that National Treasury sprang plans to adjust the public service wage bill by R160.2bn in three years on employees without due warning.

The minister was addressing a joint meeting of Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance, the Standing Committee on Appropriations, a Select Committee on Finance and a Select Committee on Appropriations on Thursday afternoon.

Mboweni's briefing to MPs came after he tabled his 2020/21 Budget Speech in Parliament on Wednesday. In its Budget Review, Treasury has proposed cuts of to R37.8 billion in 2020/21, R54.9 billion in 2021/22 and R67.5 billion in 2022/23.

Unions have called the budget announcement a "declaration of war" and said Treasury's proposal to the Public Sector Coordinating Bargaining Council on Tuesday to put increases on ice was unexpected.

Mboweni said the National Treasury proposal was the outcome of long-term engagements between government and unions through mechanisms including the National Economic Development and Labour Council.

"It is incorrect to say that discussions have not been happening. There has been a multi-pronged conversation at the level of political leadership, in the alliance, with myself, with Minister [of Public Service and Administration] Senzo Mchunu, trade unions in the public services and at Nedlac," said Mboweni.

Mboweni said these meetings had been taking place on a regular basis. He said he would be updating a Nedlac meeting on Friday on the public service wage bill proposal and the Budget Speech. He used a cryptic gardening metaphor to discourage unions from discussing the issue publicly in a combative tone.

"I have a Nedlac meeting set up for tomorrow morning, to discuss, among others, this matter and the budget itself. People shouldn’t be scared when negotiations occur to ask for anything. But don’t use organic fertilisers, use organic fuel to get what you want," Mboweni said.

National Treasury director general Dondo Mogajane said it was a mischaracterisation to call National Treasury’s proposal a cut to public servants’ salaries. He stressed that these were projections that could be achieved through means that did not at all need to involve reducing salaries.

"What we are doing is slowing down the rate of growth. We are not cutting it. The increase that was last agreed on is 1.5%. It is not decreasing. There is also a view that we are in austerity. This is not austerity," said Mogajane.

During a News24 Frontline panel discussion on Thursday morning, Congress of South African Trade Unions parliamentary liaison officer Matthew Parks said the federation would engage in good faith with government but believed that Luthuli House has not been engaging meaningfully with labour on the public service wage proposals.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
ZAR/USD
16.23
(+0.67)
ZAR/GBP
21.02
(+0.59)
ZAR/EUR
18.90
(+1.01)
ZAR/AUD
11.40
(+0.88)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.82)
Gold
1877.90
(+0.05)
Silver
23.62
(+0.11)
Platinum
844.50
(+0.39)
Brent Crude
37.86
(-0.84)
Palladium
2204.58
(+0.60)
All Share
51684.70
(-0.41)
Top 40
47472.92
(-0.22)
Financial 15
9459.76
(-3.04)
Industrial 25
73439.58
(+1.04)
Resource 10
47245.91
(-1.21)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, and I've gotten it.
24% - 152 votes
No, I did not.
50% - 323 votes
My landlord refused
26% - 168 votes
Vote