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Public sector unions urge govt to hike wages for state workers battling COVID-19

Unions are preparing to go to court to force government to implement the agreement, which guarantees workers increases between 4.5% and 5.5% this month.

Gauteng healthcare workers screening Alexandra residents for coronavirus (COVID-19) on 31 March 2020 following the roll out of massive community screenings and testing programmes by the provincial executive council. Picture: Ahmed Kajee/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Public sector unions are calling on government to show its appreciation for state workers on the front line battling the coronavirus, by hiking their salaries this month as per a 2018 agreement.

Unions are preparing to go to court to force government to implement the agreement, which guarantees workers increases between 4.5% and 5.5% this month.

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Public sector unions are unhappy with government.

They are accusing it of being greedy, unfair and opportunistic by reneging on the 2018 wage agreement.

Public Servants Association spokesperson Reuban Maleka said: “All this time, they knew in 2018 that there was no issues of coronavirus or issues of Moody’s. Recently now in a statement, they cited all those issues as reasons that they can’t afford to pay salaries for the public sector.”

He said they would meet with government in court: “We are actually in the process of finalising our court papers and will be launching court action because we believe that there is a contractual right to the agreement.”

Meanwhile, government said it would continue to engage the unions at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council.

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