Cutting public servants wages by 10% impossible 'option' – NEHAWU

Union says it will never enter into any negotiations to reduce the incomes of the public service workers

NEHAWU statement on the proposal by Treasury's Director-General to cut public servants wages by 10%

31 July 2019

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) notes the recent and ill-advised utterances by the National Treasury’s Director-General, Mr Dondo Mogajane when musing about a 10% cut in the public service workers’ salaries, on account of:

- The fact that the Treasury has so far this year spent about R128 billion bailing-out the shambolically managed ESKOM.

- The stagnant economic performance and low tax receipts.

- The dubiously appointed SARS Commissioner, Mr Edward Kieswetter.

NEHAWU sends a clear and unequivocal message to Mr Dondo Mogajane that he must forthwith disabuse himself of even entertaining such an impossible “option”, if he understands what is good for himself and the government.

In the first instance, our society is in the clutches of the current economic stagnation largely because of the Treasury’s dogmatic adherence to the failed and discredited Neoliberal macroeconomic policies, against which as part of COSATU’s campaign, NEHAWU has consistently protested. On the other hand, in addition to corporate mismanagement and corruption, we believe that ESKOM has been deliberately run into the ground – in favour of the private Independent Power Producers (IPPs) - in order to render it unpopular as part of setting it up for a fire-sale.

The Treasury must account as to why ESKOM has been forced into long-running and extortionate Power Purchase Agreements with the rent-seeking IPPs – at prices well above its own electricity generation costs. As if this was not enough, in addition to the controversial appointment of Mr Kieswetter, government makes another dodgy decision in appointing Mr Jabu Mabuza as the interim executive chair of ESKOM and acting CEO of ESKOM Holdings.

Therefore, as far as we are concern as NEHAWU, Mr Mogajane’s “option” of cutting the salaries of the public service workers by 10% is a non-starter and no go area, it is not even worthy of any consideration. Since the Treasury is the authority that is responsible for the allocation of the fiscus to departments and agencies, it must also take full responsibility in ensuring that these resources are well spent for the intended purposes.

Before expecting the underpaid public service workers to make any sacrifices, the Treasury must account as to what the Treasury’s is doing about the fact that the 2017/18 Auditor General’s report states that the State-Owned Companies are not applying proper controls. Amongst others, this report reflects that this is to the extent that wasteful expenditure has shot up by 200%, unauthorised spending increased with a 68% compared to the previous audit – in which ESKOM is amongst the leading culprits.

Therefore, our message to Mr Mogajane and the government in general is quite clear - NEHAWU shall never enter into any negotiations to reduce the incomes of the public service workers. It is not an idle threat when we warn Mr Mogajane that we shall mobilise to shut down government indefinitely and render the system ungovernable.

Issued by Khaya Xaba, National Spokesperson, NEHAWU, 31 July 2019