Government forcing us to protest, says Cosatu

Cape Town – The Western Cape’s Cosatu provincial executive committee said on Friday that The Treasury had been bargaining in bad faith during the public sector wage negotiations.

Addressing media at Community House in Salt River, Western Cape chairperson Dan Melapi said the committee would support its national structures as they demanded a 10% general salary increase for all public service workers.

“The meeting further resolved to support the public service unions in their struggles against the employer in the state for decent wage increase,” he said.

“Protest action will be coordinated by Cosatu and will include other public service workers in the Western Cape, who support the demand for a decent wage increase.”

Treasury bargaining in bad faith

Sadtu provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin said Treasury had been bargaining in bad faith. “They went from 4.8% to an increase of 5.8% and then back to 4.8%,” he said. “We’ve been negotiating since November and have not made any progress.

“The 10% salary increase and the housing wage across board increase to R1 500 is very reasonable in the current economic climate,” he said.

“Yesterday, there was a massive march to Pretoria, while we had localised pickets in provincial locations,” said Rustin. “We are consulting our members surrounding the deal. The government must come with a better offer and it needs to be a living wage. Our employers are pushing us in a direction we don’t want to go.

Government must take the blame

“The Treasury’s budget includes increase for 6%, but it was intransient to come to the party in 2014 and to make any proposals,” said Rustin. “We say that government should take the blame for the impasse. If there is a cap of 6%, they know it is undermining its own workers.

“You have to motivate your workforce by giving them a living wage,” he said. “Public servants don’t qualify for RDP houses. A R900 subsidy means that no state employee can purchase a house.

“Nowhere is there a bond for R900, but you expect them to be on time and deliver a service, then treat them without dignity. We want to provide a service and work efficiently to provide a good service.

“While we’re in negotiations, they declare a deadlock and go to conciliation. The employer is not bringing anything new. They are pushing public servants to the streets.”

Strengthen alliance

Melapi said the provincial executive committee felt that the alliance between the ANC, Cosatu and the Communist Party needed to be strengthened. “Special engagements should be convened to respond to the threats facing the organisation in these trying times,” he said.

Western Cape Cosatu secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the issue of the alliance was a difficult matter.

“We have made so much progress with the alliance and we want to take this forward to speed up the second phase of the transition, which is the economic emancipation of workers, but there is clearly a disagreement with the ANC over the issue of the wage increase for public servants,” he said. “Overall, we agree on more things than not. 

“The position of Cosatu is that we maintain and strengthen the alliance to deepen transformation.”  

Western Cape Sadtu provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin, Western Cape Cosatu secretary Tony Ehrenreich and Western Cape Cosatu chairperson Dan Melapi at the media briefing on Friday at Community House in Salt River, Cape (Photo: Matthew le Cordeur)

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