Public wage talks: major union asks members to vote on first strike in 12 years

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  • The Public Servants' Association will undergo balloting this week to determine whether it will strike in the public service as wage talks make little progress.
  • This would be the PSA's first strike in the public service since 2010.
  • PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka said the balloting on whether to strike should begin before this Friday. 
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The Public Servants' Association (PSA) will begin balloting its members this week on whether to commence with its first strike in over a decade as the public service wage talks grind on with little progress.

The last time the PSA went on strike in the public service was in 2010, demanding an 8.6% wage hike, having rejected government's 6.5% offer. That strike was successful.

Now, 12 years later, PSA is demanding a 6.5% wage increase as government offers unions a 2%. The PSA currently represents around 235 000 public sector employees. In 2020, the public service had an estimated 830 000 employees, including police officers and teachers.

A memo that Fin24 has seen from last week showed that the government would only be prepared to raise its baseline offer to 3% if it could introduce cost containment measures including early retirement without penalties, an exit mechanism for employees between the ages of 60 and 64, and voluntary severance packages, subject to an assessment of critical skills. 

READ | Public sector wages: Police union plans Union Buildings march, pickets at stations, prisons

PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka confirmed to Fin24 that the union would be undertaking the ballot process this week.

"Indeed, we are in the process to ballot our members with a possibility that we call out strike action. We should start before Friday," said Maleka.

Maleka told Fin24 that the PSA was not prepared to consider the government's conditions for a revised offer of 3%.

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

Meanwhile, the Police Prisons and Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said it resolved at its special national executive committee meeting last week that it would march to the Union Buildings in September to demand an increase that is "not less than 10%".

Popcru said its program of action would also include lunchtime pickets across all police stations, correctional centres, and traffic institutions. Popcru warned that if this is unsuccessful, the union will be left with "no option but to withdraw labour".

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