Knock-knock, Enoch: PSA mulls marches to ministers' homes, intensified public wage strike

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PSA members protesting in downtown CBD Pretoria during the civil servants strike on November 10, 2022.
PSA members protesting in downtown CBD Pretoria during the civil servants strike on November 10, 2022.
Gallo Images/OJ Koloti
  • The Public Servants' Association said it was considering marches to ministers' homes to intensify its industrial action in the public service.
  • The union is also considering a boycott of municipal bills to increase the pressure on the government.
  • The union said an intensified strike would frustrate processes at border posts and slow down, if not halt, the issuing of identity documents and passports. 
  • For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.

The Public Servants' Association (PSA) threatened to intensify its industrial action in the public service sector and is entertaining a revolt against paying municipal rates and possible marches to the homes of Cabinet ministers.

This comes as the deadlock in the public wage talks rages on, after the government unilaterally implemented a 3% baseline wage increase in the public service, which the government will pay to all qualifying public servants starting this week.

The PSA, which has 235 000 members, is demanding a 10% baseline increase, while public service unions affiliated with the ANC-aligned Cosatu are also demanding a 10% increase. Only the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) accepted the 3% wage offer from the government, albeit reluctantly.

READ | PSA ends one-day strike, govt says disruption was 'minimal'

The PSA said in a statement that after last week's march, the union was prepared to turn up the heat on the government with protest demonstrations that would bring the pressure straight to ministers' front doors. 

"Marches on national roads and night vigils at strategic places, including ministers' residences, are not ruled out as workers are frustrated by increasing poverty while thieves are enriching themselves with public funds.

"Public servants may further consider boycotting payment of municipality bills owing to unaffordability and privileges for politicians until government pays attention," the statement said.

The PSA statement said it called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that the government implement "a meaningful salary increase" of 10%, additionally filling vacancies in the public service, stopping retrenchment plans in the public service and parastatals, and giving the public service adequate capacity.

"There is further a need for more soldiers to guard the country's borders as the cross-border movement of illicit goods - including stolen vehicles, drugs, and poached rhino horn and other endangered species - continues to rise as great expense for the economy and citizens' safety," the statement said.

The PSA slammed remarks by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana that the government may consider retrenching public servants as "reckless and irresponsible".

"The minister has, however, been shamefully quiet about wasteful expenditure and the draining of state resources, including overpricing of services and theft by some of his colleagues," the statement said.

READ | Public service strike is on, says union, as govt expects business as usual on Thursday

The PSA said the government only responds to "lawlessness and destructive protest action", saying its refusal to listen to labour was "unfortunate". 

The union warned that failure to respond to its demand would result in intensified mass action, which would put a stop to the movement of goods and people at ports of entry.

The union added that an intensified strike would also slow down, if not halt, the issuing of identity documents and passports.

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