Thousands of public sector unions members to march to Pretoria

Protesters will demand that the National Treasury stop frustrating the negotiations process in wage talks.

FILE: Protesters will demand that the National Treasury stop frustrating the negotiations process in wage talks. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)'s public sector unions say thousands of workers will march to the National Treasury in Pretoria today to demand that they stop frustrating the negotiations process in wage talks.

The unions are demanding a 10 percent wage hike but the department of public service and administration has stuck to its initial offer of 5.8 percent.

Cosatu says this is because the National Treasury is refusing to allocate more money to allow for a higher increase.

Cosatu's chief negotiator for the unions Nkosana Dolopi says, "We regard them as being very problematic because they are more frustrating for the whole process for so many years they have refused to improve the lives of workers, so that's why we direct our anger to them."

Wage demands by public sector unions would cost the government an extra R20 billion over the next financial year, says the country's finance minister, as workers threaten mass protests in a push for higher pay.

The drawn out wage talks are putting more pressure on Africa's most developed economy, which is already suffering from widespread power shortages and high unemployment.

Any wage increase greater than the 5.8 percent inflation rate that the government offer is based on "cannot be financed through debt issuance," Nene said. The government would need either to reallocate funds from elsewhere or cut jobs, he said.