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Govt misleading unions over unmet wage increase, PSA argues in court

The Department of Public Service and Administration and Treasury said they could not afford the hikes, which were agreed upon back in 2018, stating repeatedly that this would cost over R30 billion.

FILE: Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The unprecedented court battle between government and public sector unions has gotten under way in the Labour Appeal Court where lawyers for the Public Servants Association (PSA) say government was misleading the parties about the cost estimates of this year's unmet wage increases.

The Department of Public Service and Administration and Treasury said they could not afford the hikes, which were agreed upon back in 2018, stating repeatedly that this would cost over R30 billion.

READ MORE: Govt appeals to unions to back postponement of wage hike court hearing

On Tuesday, government tried to delay the legal process by asking unions to explore the possibility of reaching a settlement.

The Public Servants Association has submitted that the wage increases, which are set at just over 5%, will only cost the state R10 billion.

The association's attorney Chris Orr said: “It is a question of some concern that the State has repeatedly relied on a figure in justifying many of its arguments in this matter, which is objectively incorrect.”

ALSO READ: Public sector unions shun govt request to forego salary hike court hearings

The State has argued that it could not afford the salary hikes due to pressures to cut down expenditure as the economy continues to decline.

It also said the agreement was reached without the necessary Regulation 79 approvals, which include the need for Cabinet to give it the green light.

However, the State has complied with the agreement for the past two years.

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