Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu seemed "surprised" to learn that wage negotiations for the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) had their own platform and did not form part of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) engagements, according to a union representative.
The Public Servants Association (PSA) called off its nationwide public servants' strike which was to be held on Monday, after the majority of unions representing public servants signed a three-year wage deal, to which the PSA was highly opposed.
However, plans for the Sassa strike were not derailed.
Sassa employees in major cities such as Cape Town and Durban went on strike on Monday, pending the outcomes of the meeting with Shabangu, Fredericks told Fin24. Sassa is responsible for paying out social grants to over 17 million beneficiaries.
Shortly after the strike started, it was put on hold.
"The PSA, in placing trust in the Minister’s favourable consideration of the union’s position, has thus decided to temporarily relax the current industrial action," the union said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
Where should negotiations take place?
Fredericks said the union had met with Shabangu on Monday to raise concerns over the platform used for wage negotiations.
"We told her the Sassa negotiations should take place in another chamber and not in the PSCBC. We informed her about all our correspondence with the previous minister (Bathabile Dlamini) and how it happened last year and what should be done."
The PSCBC is the official forum for public sector wage and compensation issues.
"She was totally amazed to hear this thing was on a table a long time already. We placed this year’s demands on the table in February 2018."
The union has put up demands for salary increases between 12% and 15% for all Sassa employees, among other service conditions, Fredericks said.
The PSA is the majority union at Sassa, with 5 000 members out of the 7 000 being Sassa workers, he said.
"We left on a positive note," said Fredericks.
The PSA will meet with Shabangu on Thursday June 14, and the minister will consult with various other stakeholders on the matter and will provide the union with feedback.
Thereafter, the union will decide if the strike will recommence later this week, depending on whether negotiations can start or not, he explained.
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