Govt and workers return to negotiating table

Government and labour unions are due to discuss wage and benefit increases on Monday.

Public Service and Administration minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Public Service and Administration Ministry on Sunday said labour unions and government are committed to resolving the deadlock in wage talks, with negotiations scheduled to resume on Monday.

Department spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said the department is confident an agreement will be reached between workers and government “for the benefit of all South Africans”.

Last week Tuesday, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu called for a return to the negotiating table, saying government had offered civil servants a nine percent wage hike.

Sisulu combined government's 6.5-percent wage increase and 2.5-percent benefits increase, to trump the unions wage demand of eight percent.

She gave unions 21 days to decide on the offer.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) accused her of being dishonest and unfair to workers by suggesting the nine-percent hike stood alone. 

They are demanding a R1500 housing allowance, but the minister’s offer means workers will receive a R900 housing allowance instead.

Sisulu said the increases on offer will cost taxpayers R30-billion a year and that the National Treasury had only budgeted for a five percent increase.

As things stand, government will have to make up the R8.1 billion more by dipping into government reserves, Sisulu added.

Some unions have rejected the most recent offer, whereas other unions have said it is too early in negotiation talks to say whether they will accept government’s offer.

Civil servants say they do not want to strike, but have threatened to do so if a beneficial agreement is not reached.