Update on the 2021-22 round of wage negotiations of public sector workers
31 March 2021
The Joint Mandating Committee (JMC) of the public sector trade unions (DENOSA, NEHAWU, PAWUSA, POPCRU, SADTU, SAEPU, and SAMATU) organised under COSATU, who command the majority at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) wish to update its members on the state of affairs around the on-going salary negotiation in the public service.
The collective demands of unions organising in the public service were submitted on the 01 March 2021 from which the PSCBC scheduled a two-day engagement on the 29-30 March 2021 for parties in Council to negotiate. Labour immerged from this two-day session having provided clarity on their demands in which we clearly articulated with motivation the reason for such demands.
Among the primary demands presented to the employer the following were thoroughly explained:
- The COLA in which we demanded a Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 4% across the board on the cost-of-living adjustment. Understanding that our members lost their buying power as a result of non-implementation of 2020 salary increase. Furthermore, having considered the economic outlook of government, our demands of a higher percentage above CPI is informed by the fact that the three main items (food, electricity and public transport) which drives our members’ expenditure patterns are way above the projected CPI of 3.1%. Considering all factors, the present inflation has set our workers in the negative economic and financial path.
- We espoused greatly on our demand to increase housing allowance to R2 500 and the creation of public entity to administer housing scheme such that we avoid privatisation of the housing project in government.
- We called for a consideration of a special risk allowance of 12% of the basic salary during national disaster situations like Covid -19.
- We further called for implementation of all outstanding signed resolutions including ensuring that all funded vacant posts are filled to deal with massive shortages of human capital in the public service.
We have indeed presented the mandate that was given to us by the workers and hope that the employer will revert expeditiously to these reasonable demands.
The employer has requested more time to engage on clarities sort in our demands to enable a proper costing before tabling a response. The Council is tasked to resume parties within five working days to engage further. Be that as it may, we note with caution, the growing tendency of employer to push the agenda of salary freeze over the next three years in the public service to contain the wage-bill as was pronounced by the minister of Finance in his February 2021 budget speech.
As a gesture of showing bonafide intentions in this round of negotiations, we have afforded the employer the time to thoroughly look at our submissions. We are equally perturbed by the employer’s posture to advance a zero increase like is the case with workers in local government in which they were told that there will be a zero increase. We are careful assessing these developments and COSATU will in due course through the JMC collectively update on the next move after receiving the employer’s response to our demands.
Issued by Mugwena Maluleke, JMC Convener, 31 March 2021