Risk of strike looms again as unions declare fresh public service wage dispute

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Unions and the government have struggled to make progress in securing a public service wage agreement.
Unions and the government have struggled to make progress in securing a public service wage agreement.

The South African public service is teetering on the brink of industrial action after at least another two unions declared a dispute at public service wage talks with the government.

This comes after unions and the government have been stuck at a 3% wage increase offer to public servants in the negotiations, currently before the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council.

In late August, the government raised its wage offer from 2% to 3% during a mediation process aimed at breaking a deadlock in the discussions.

Police, Prisons, and Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said his union, the National Education Health, and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) have declared a dispute on the current 3% offer by the government.

"We have declared a dispute, and the date of conciliation hearing and issuing of a certificate to embark on industrial action will be communicated," Mamabolo said.

Denosa spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo confirmed to News24 Business that the union rejected the offer.

READ | Three public service unions reject govt's 'last chance' 3% wage offer

While the government raised its offer from 2% to 3%, the offer was still a far cry from union demands ranging between 6% and 10%, most of which were revised downwards.

In September, Popcru held a march to the Union Buildings, demanding a public service wage baseline that is not less than 10%, and a reversal of all "austerity" measures in the public service. 

Nehawu's spokesperson Lwazi Nkolisi referred queries to a Cosatu spokesperson, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

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