No sign of deal between unions, government in wage talks

No sign of deal between unions, government in wage talks


The unions and government were locked in wage negotiations yesterday, with no sign of a deal yet.

But Cosatu and other public sector unions have warned they were not going to accept the 0% increase as was reaffirmed by Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu this week.

Nehawu, the largest public sector union, fired the warning shot ahead of the crucial wage talks as the government was trying to trim the wage bill.

The union’s senior leaders said any talk of a 0% increase would be inviting trouble, with the strike likely to be declared.

The Public Servants Association was also not letting up as it pushed for a 7% wage increase, alongside Nehawu.

Nehawu said in view of the government’s stance of a 0% increase, a strike was unavoidable.

“We totally agree with the minister that there is a trust deficit between the unions and government. We lost trust in our democratically elected government when it started to renege on binding collective agreements. Our government has proven beyond reasonable doubt that it cannot be trusted and it thrives on negotiating in bad faith.

“The minister made it crystal clear that they are not willing to accede to our demands and we believe a strike action is the only mechanism we have at our disposal to use to twist the arm of the employer to give workers what is due to them,” said Nehawu in a statement.

Mchunu had earlier said they were hoping that all parties would avert a strike. He said the National Treasury had told them there was no money.

But the unions were not backing down and demanding that the wage increases be implemented.

“We view his little stunt as part of the broader agenda of undermining collective bargaining by the government of the day. The national union vows to fight until the bitter end to defend collective bargaining which did not come on a silver platter in this country.

“The erosion of the principle of collective bargaining must be ferociously defended as the end results will be workers returning to slave-like working conditions,” said Nehawu’s statement.

It said government must come up with the money.

The state and the unions were locked in another legal battle after the unions went to the Constitutional Court to challenge the wage freeze of 2018.

The government wants to save billions of rand in the next few years. The unions said the state must fight against corruption and ensure workers got increases.

Political Bureau

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