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Public sector unions suspend wage deal

Unions allege the government's negotiators have acted in bad faith.

FILE: Workers protest as public sector unions seek to strike a wage deal on 19 May 2015. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Public sector unions have officially suspended a wage deal after government implemented a lower offer apparently without their knowledge.

The Independent Labour Caucus (ILC) and Congress South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) had reached an agreement of 7 percent plus a medical contribution of 28 percent.

Cosatu unions and the ILC had threatened to pull out of the agreement after the state recently announced it had paid government workers 0,6 percent too much over the past three years.

Unions say government has now only increased salaries by 6.4 percent.

The caucus's Basil Manuel says workers have been deliberately misled by the employer.

"Now they tell us that they couldn't do this and that, which we don't buy. We are saying they have acted in poor and bad faith and have been disrespectful to labour."

Meanwhile, the Public Service and Administration Department says it is seeking legal assistance to determine whether or not its decision to amend the agreed-upon increase was correct.

The department's Brent Simons says measures have been put in place to resolve the matter peacefully.

"We have an agreement with the unions that legal opinion will be provided to us on 29 June. That legal opinion will determine whether government was right or wrong."

Last week Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini said government's refusal to implement a seven percent wage deal signed with public sector unions was a provocation to call a strike.