Public sector unions weigh their options after ruling on wages

The Labour Appeal Court has ruled that the final leg of the 2018 public sector wage agreement is unlawful and set it aside.

FILE: Striking Cosatu members in Pretoria on 7 October 2020. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Public sector unions are warning that the dismissal of the legal application they joined over the non-payment of their members’ salary increases will have a profound impact on collective bargaining.

The Labour Appeal Court has ruled that the final leg of the 2018 public sector wage agreement is unlawful and set it aside.

Treasury and the rest of government had refused to implement the deal due to the dire state of the fiscus.

Trade unions including Cosatu, Sadtu, Nehawu, Public Servants Association and Popcru among others had argued in court that the government reneged on a contractual agreement with workers and should therefore be forced to enforce it.

On the other hand, the State not only lodged a counterapplication, but also pointed to a number of laws, which the disputed part of the agreement was in contravention of.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said: “We shall therefore next week make a decision whether we’re taking this on appeal to the Constitutional Court or any other form of action that is available to us.”

Meanwhile, the judges were also clear in their consideration of the current social and economic challenges in the country - saying the context alone does not make it just and equitable to compel government to see the entire agreement through.

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