Govt and unions return to wage talks, as PSA voting for strike starts

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Striking workers demonstrating.
Striking workers demonstrating.
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  • Government and other unions are returning to wage talks at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council on Thursday.
  • Meanwhile, the 235 000 members of the Public Servants' Association have started to vote on whether they should embark on a strike – which could be the union's first strike since 2010. 
  • Government told unions that it would struggle to raise its 2% baseline increase offer to 3%.
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As one public sector union starts to vote on whether it should strike, government and other unions are returning to wage talks at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) on Thursday. Unions said the government still had a chance to improve its offer and avoid a strike.

The deadlock comes as the government told unions that it would struggle to raise its 2% baseline increase offer to 3%. It is threatening cost containment measures such as early retirement packages, limiting the filling of vacancies in strategic positions, and voluntary severance packages, subject to an assessment of critical skills.

Unions' demands range between a 4% increase and a 10% wage increase. The Police, Prisons, and Civil Rights Union (Popcru) resolved at its special national executive committee meeting to hold a march to the Union Buildings in September for a 10% increase.

Popcru said it would hold lunchtime pickets at police stations, traffic departments, and correctional facilities in the run-up to the march next month.

On Thursday, the 235 000 members of the Public Servants' Association (PSA) started to vote on whether they should embark on a strike – which could be the union's first strike since 2010. 

READ | Public wage talks: major union asks members to vote on the first strike in 12 years

Still, while voting is ongoing, PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka told Fin24 that the union remained open to talks providing a solution to the deadlock.

"We will resume and open the balloting during the course of the day, however, there is an ongoing meeting at the PSCBC (and) it is expected that the employer must come up with a revised offer," said Maleka.

Cosatu said during a press briefing that its affiliates in the public service would exhaust all deadlock resolution mechanisms at the talks before contemplating a strike.

"As Cosatu we stand in support of our affiliates. We are hearing from our affiliates in the public wage talks that they strongly reject the offer and that they remain open to negotiations," said secretary general Bheki Ntshalintshali.

READ | PSA declares deadlock at public wage talks, document shows

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