Public sector reaches wage deal agreement

A three year wage deal has been reached between government and unionised and non-unionised workers.

Public sector workers can breath a sigh of relief after calling for better wages. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - A three year wage deal has been reached between both unionised and non-unionised workers in the public sector and government at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council overnight.

There are 1.3 million workers in the public service collective bargaining council which includes the Independent Labour Caucus representing the 220,000 public servants.

The agreement took seven months to conclude and is based on a salary hike with one percent plus inflation increases over three years.

Government workers have won a seven percent wage hike over the next three years after prolonged talks which saw them initially demand 15 percent.

The breakthrough was achieved after the state increased its medical aid contribution from 25 to 28.5 percent.

But the talks didn't end without controversy; the Independent Labour Caucus did not sign a housing allowance deal.

It sought R1,500, but it's understood a deal for a R1,200 allowance could be accepted by the unions.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said the details around medical aid and housing allowances still need to be ironed out but workers have accepted a wage hike of seven percent in principle.

Cosatu said an agreement is yet to be signed and its officials worked on the deal into the early hours of the morning at the council in Centurion.

Talks over public wages and benefits have been dragging on for seven months.

After a week of canvassing among their members in a strike ballot by the Public Servants Association, Cosatu chief negotiator Mugwena Maluleke said workers have accepted the wage offer.

"Generally the seven percent has been accepted but there is some work that needs to be done on the medical aid and on the housing."

But he said benefits in the agreement have not yet been finalised.

"They are on the verge of signing, they have not signed because there is work that needed to be done."