Public sector settlement likely

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Cape Town - A meeting on Friday between public sector union negotiators and Acting Public Services Minister Nathi Mthethwa may finally resolve the pay and conditions impasse in the public sector. 

READ: Public service pay talks flounder

A number of suggestions are understood to have been tabled by the unions, who are still insisting that an agreed 7% pay rise be paid.

Government unilaterally reduced this increase to 6.4%, claiming that public sector workers had been overpaid by 0.6% in the last year of the previous multi-term deal. 

READ: Unions slam new govt wage move as 'abominable'

The unions maintain that it is not only unjust, but illegal to deduct money because of an error made in a previous agreement. They are now awaiting a legal opinion on the matter that is due on June 29.

However, there are signs that much of the anger expressed earlier by public sector workers has subsided. “I don’t think many members think it worthwhile going on strike (for) 0.6%,” a union negotiator admitted.

In the meantime Cosatu unions, being allied to the government, have been put on the spot and Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini on Wednesday blamed unnamed officials for reducing the agreed pay rise. 

The ANC government, he said, “is our government”, and unionists should not allow officials to act in the way they apparently had.

Although a strike will almost certainly be averted, the long-standing issue of housing and housing allowances is still unresolved. 

The Cosatu unions, representing about 52% of unionised workers, have signed the existing agreement, while the independent unions have refused.

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