Police union rejects government's wage offer as consultations continue

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Public service unions are divided on the latest government wage offer increase of 1.5%
Public service unions are divided on the latest government wage offer increase of 1.5%
Nhlanhla Nkosi

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) says its members have given it a mandate to reject the government's 1.5% wage increase offer, saying the hike would not have much impact on their real income.

Discussions between the Department of Public Service and Administration and union negotiators over a new offer were still underway on Friday afternoon.

The new offer will increase wages by 1.5%. A R1 220 to R1 695 monthly cash gratuity was also part of the government's offer. The cash payment is non-pensionable, meaning that it does not attract a compulsory contribution to the workers' pension fund. Government previously offered R978.

But there wasn't overwhelming support for the offer, with a minority of unions accepting it so far, one insider told Fin24.

Popcru was one of the biggest unions to outright reject the offer. 

"We feel that this will not have any impact on the baseline salaries of employees and pensions in the long term. We wanted something to be done on these areas as opposed to gratuities only," said Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo.

However, Mamabolo told Fin24 that the gratuities only run for a 12-month period, something the members feel is "unjustified".

"Members feel that the increases in notches would have been a better offer. That is the mandate from the workers and they are not happy with the current offer. We have rejected the offer based on the members' mandate."

Earlier this week, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) said in a circular that a 1.5% pay progression would not benefit more than 39 000 employees. 

For the lowest-paid public servants (level 1 workers), the salary increase plus cash payment will result in an 11.7% pay adjustment, the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council said. Level 10 employees will receive an increase equal to around 4%.

According to one insider, 34% of the unions had accepted the government's offer so far, but the agreement will only come into effect once it receives majority signatures.

Four unions have accepted the offer

The Public Servants Association's (PSA) Claude Naiker said four unions have accepted the proposed increase, and it was a final offer on the table. Others have 21 days to take the offer or join Popcru and shoot it down.

"As far as PSA is concerned, we are currently balloting our members for a mandate whether to accept the offer or reject the offer," he said.

PSA members have until 14 July to vote. But even if unions can't all agree, Naiker said the government will continue to pay the monthly cash gratuity.

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