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South African public servants are likely to accept the government’s latest wage offer, according an initial estimate of a ballot of labour-union members.
Employee groups representing about 1.3 million government workers are currently seeking a mandate from their members to accept a 7.5% increase in their pay in the fiscal year that begins on April 1. The proposal includes a pensionable cash gratuity and excludes housing and medical insurance, Reuben Maleka, spokesman for the 235 000-member Public Servants Association, said in response to questions sent by text message on Monday.
"Preliminary results are positive," Maleka said.
Wages account for about a third of government expenditure in South Africa and keeping it in check is key to the National Treasury’s efforts to contain runaway state debt. Ratings companies have flagged the wage bill as an ongoing risk to the nation’s finances.
Increasing pay for public servants on salary levels one to 12 by an average of 7% would cost an additional R35.8 billion in the upcoming financial year, the Treasury said March 16. Budget estimates released last month envisioned the compensation bill growing by an annual average of 2.1% over the six years through March 2026, down from 7.3% over the previous five-year period.
The Treasury declined to comment.
A separate agreement is being negotiated on housing allowances, while medical insurance is not part of the current round of talks, Maleka said.