‘It’s unfair to blame workers for state’s soaring wage bill’

Cosatu and Fedusa say the focus should be on cleaning up corruption, sorting out state-owned companies and trimming a bloated executive.

FILE: Cosatu parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks. Picture: @SACTWU/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), say it is unfair to blame workers for the state’s soaring wage bill as they only want to earn a living wage.

After debt-service payments, the state’s salary bill is the highest item of expenditure.

But Cosatu and Fedusa say the focus should be on cleaning up corruption, sorting out state-owned companies and trimming a bloated executive.

Parliament’s finance committees are holding joint public hearings on the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) unveiled by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni last week.

Public sector unions aren’t happy with being scapegoated.

“We don’t think government’s constant bashing of public servants wanting to earn a living wage is helpful. It demoralises staff who are expected to deliver services to the public,” says Cosatu’s parliamentary head Matthew Parks.

Parks says the public service headcount has come down by three percent over the past two years, while the population has grown.

“We don’t seem to be tackling the real growth in public service, which is around management level and policy posts, and we don’t seem to be acknowledging the impact on service delivery in health education policing, where posts have been frozen.”

Fedusa general secretary Dennis George says, “It is totally unfair to blame the workers for South Africa’s burden of the public-sector wages, which constitute 35% of expenditure.”

George says the problem is political rather than economic.

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(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)