Unions reject government's 'misleading' final public wage offer

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General view during the civil servants' strike on November 10, 2022 in Durban.
General view during the civil servants' strike on November 10, 2022 in Durban.
Gallo Images/Darren Stewart
  • Public service unions have accused the government of attempting to "gerrymander percentages" in its wage offer to public servants.
  • On Thursday, the government claimed that its wage offer came to an average increase of 7.5%.
  • However, the unrevised offer comes to a 3% salary increase plus a 4.5% increase in the R1 000 cash stipend that civil servants earn, which could fall away next year.
  • For more financial stories, go to the News24 Business front page.

Public service unions have objected to the government's claim that its final offer in the deadlocked wage talks comes to an average increase of 7.5%.

The unions rejected the government's offer of a 3% salary increase plus a monthly cash amount of R1 045 (a 4.5% increase on the R1 000 monthly non-pensionable stipend civil servants are currently earning).

In a statement on Thursday, the Ministry of Public Service and Administration claimed that the offer came to "an average of 7.5%".

However, the unions objected to this "flawed" calculation.

"The government has sneakily decided to combine the R1 000 stipend, and a 3% baseline increase in its calculations and rounded it up to a fictitious 7.5% increase," according to a joint statement by seven unions affiliated with Cosatu, the Federation of SA Trade Unions (Fedusa), and the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu),

READ | Govt clarifies that 'final offer' to public sector unions is an effective 7.5%

"Government [is] being disingenuous in gerrymandering percentages to sell to the public. Members will only receive 3% extra in their pay packets as a result of the implementation of the increase, not 7.5% as the government is trying to falsely convey," a spokesperson of the Fedusa-aligned Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA (Hospersa) told News24.

The unions say this is no different from the offer that the government tabled at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) in September.

Unions also said the government tried to include the R1 000 stipend that it introduced to resolve the fallout from its decision to renege on the 2018 wage agreement, knowing it would end in March next year. Government said the stipend could be extended in the next round if parties conclude the current wage talks.

Public Service and Administration spokesperson Moses Mushi said if unions returned to the table, the government was open to revisiting the R1 000 stipend. The R1 000 stipend in its wage offer was extended from March 2020 to March next year and would fall away if a public wage deal was not secured in time.

READ | Seven public sector unions, representing 800 000 workers, announce one-day strike

Seven unions representing an estimated 800 000 members said they will proceed with their national day of action next week Tuesday and said even members who constitute an essential service were prepared to down tools.

The Public Servants' Association (PSA) held a one-day strike last week but said it was prepared to intensify its demonstrations. The PSA said it was considering a boycott of municipal rates and marches to ministers' homes. 

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