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Cosatu rejects govt decision to impose wage freeze during economic crisis

The trades union federation today made a submission on the medium-term budget policy statement unveiled last week.

File picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has accused the government of focusing too narrowly on cutting spending at a time of economic crisis, when it should be shoring up the economic recovery plan’s goals of saving jobs and businesses and stimulating growth.

Cosatu on Wednesday told Parliament’s finance committees it agreed that government’s soaring debt needed to be reined in, but rejected the decision to impose a wage freeze on public servants.

The trades union federation on Wednesday made a submission on the medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) unveiled last week.

The MTBPS hinges on reducing the public sector wage bill, but Cosatu sees this as an attempt to force them to foot the bill for politicians’ mismanagement of the state.

Cosatu’s parliamentary coordinator, Matthew Parks, said, “What government is proposing is basically a fixation on reducing expenditure – in effect an austerity budget – we also see the need to deal with the debt issue but are worried that it comes at the (cost) of the need to stimulate the economy, save jobs and save companies.”

Cosatu said workers wouldn't take government seriously until it slashed packages paid to political office bearers and senior managers by 30% and until it began to tackle the pandemic of corruption.

Parks said Cosatu has made a number of proposals to government at Nedlac on how to deal with corruption, including an overhaul of the procurement system.

“But the one fundamental area of disagreement which our colleagues in government didn’t want to agree to was to ban politicians, their spouses and their children from doing business with the state and for us, we have to deal with that issue.

"We can’t be having ministers, MECs, councillors, leaders of political parties and their families, doing business with the state - yet we all pay lip service to corruption.”

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