Wage talks ongoing, insists public service dept, amid threats of shutdown

Nehawu members march in Cape Town before the budget speech. (Jenni Evans  News24)
Nehawu members march in Cape Town before the budget speech. (Jenni Evans News24)

The Department of Public Service and Administration has maintained that negotiations are not over yet and there is no final offer on the table.

Unions have claimed that government offered a 0% wage increase to public servants during wage talks.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced in his Budget speech the intention to save some R160 billion on the public sector wage bill over the next three years. Tensions over the announcement are ongoing as the coronavirus pandemic has hit South African shores.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union claimed that in the latest discussions, government indicated to the union that it planned to renege on the existing public service wage bill, which makes provision for an increase in April, giving many public servants an effective zero percent increase.

The South African Emergency Personnel Union also slammed the attempted review of a resolution to increase wages in line with the consumer price index, saying the coronavirus pandemic should be considered before the deal is nixed.

Nehawu is threatening to stage a march at the end of the month if talks fail, while SAEPU has asked government to bear in mind that emergency personnel will be needed to help combat the coronavirus.

However, despite concern from unions that government would renege on a previous agreement for a 4.5% and 5.5% wage increase in April, Public Service and Administration spokesperson Vukani Mbhele told Fin24 that no such decision had been made as yet.

"No decision has been taken in that regard. We presented our case in the chamber and we are engaging with unions," said Mbhele to Fin24 via WhatsApp.

Public service wage negotiations under the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council are set to continue on Thursday.

 

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