Cosatu, public service unions resume wage talks  with govt

Cosatu, public service unions resume wage talks with govt

JOHANNESBURG  - PUBLIC  service unions affiliated to the Congress of SA Trade Unions on Tuesday said they were continuing wage talks with government.

Negotiations were earlier abandoned after the two sides failed to reach an agreement, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Unions (Sadtu) said in a statement on behalf of the other unions.

“After much delay from the employer, the negotiations came to a halt in the early hours of Monday,” Sadtu deputy general secretary Nkosana Dolopi said.

“The meeting went on until 2.30am in the morning, with labour insisting on negotiating for a better deal, an approach that was met with an arrogant and intransigent attitude of the employer,” he said.

The unions involved were Sadtu, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA, the SA Medical Association, the SA Social Workers’ Union, and the Public and Allied Workers Union of SA.

When negotiations started in September, unions demanded a 15 percent salary hike for all government workers. They also wanted a R3000 housing allowance in the absence of a government employees’ housing scheme, which was to be de-linked from each spouse employed in the public service.

The unions also wanted 10 working days leave for parents with children with disabilities, and a bursary scheme for government employees’ children.
Earlier this month, the unions revised their demands to a 10 percent increase and a R1 500 housing allowance.

The current agreement in place expires on March 31.
During Monday’s negotiations, the government offered a five percent increase for the current financial year and CPI plus 0.5 percent in the next two financial years. The unions rejected this.

“It must be noted that labour is fully committed to engage the employer seven days a week until the settlement is reached,” Dolopi said.
“At the same time, as labour, we will be engaging with our members to comprehensively engage with them on what is transpiring in the negotiations.”

The Economic Freedom Fighters said it supported the demand for a 10 percent salary increase.

“We support the 10 percent salary increase because through its failure to generate adequate revenue, the South African government has shifted the costs of the national revenue to ordinary workers through an increase on fuel levies, personal income tax and now electricity prices,” said national spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

“The EFF will unashamedly support struggles of public servants, from different trade unions, in their demands for salary increases because that is part of the principled struggles of the EFF.”

There were many other ways the government could generate revenue, rather than shifting the burden to workers, he said.

“These include nationalisation and strategic control of key sectors of the economy with the aim of equitable redistribution.”
Talks resume on Wednesday. - Sapa