Public wage talks: Govt 'stuck at 2%' as it floats containment proposals to raise offer

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  • The government could not move beyond its 2% offer to unions at the public service wage talks on Friday.
  • It suggested cost-containment measures to give it room to raise its wage offer from 2% to 3%.
  • The Public Servants' Association said it was not prepared to accept these proposals for a 3% increase.
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Fin24 has learnt that public service wage talks between government and unions are "stuck" as the state is struggling to move beyond its offer to public servants of a 2% wage increase without drastic cost-containment measures.

This comes after government was staring down the barrel of a fresh dispute and possible strike action last week when it could not make an offer close to the downward revised demands of unions ranging between 4% and 6.5%.

When talks at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) stalled at last week, government was given until 12 August to return to unions with a meaningful offer. If government did not come back with a better offer, the Public Servants' Association (PSA) would look into declaring a fresh dispute at the wage talks.

READ | Strike forces SARS to close 18 branches

In a memo, which Fin24 has seen, government is looking to contain as many costs as it can to afford to raise its offer to unions from 2% to 3%.

"Any pensionable salary adjustment above the 2% shall be subject to the employer introducing the cost containment measures in the public service. Such measures would allow for the sourcing of the additional 1% required to cover any baseline increase above the 2% over the 2022/23 medium-term expenditure framework," the memo said.

The memo said measures may include, but are not limited to, filling only posts identified as critical, early retirement without penalties, exit mechanism for employees at ages of 60 and 64, and voluntary severance package subject to an assessment of critical skills. 

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

PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka told Fin24 that there was no movement in meetings with the employer on Friday and that the government remained "stuck" at 2%.

Maleka said the union could not agree to the cost-cutting and cost-moderation measures proposed at the meeting. 

Government did not respond to a request for comment. 

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