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Public sector unions to table wage demands before govt

This follows weeks of demands consolidation among the unions as government warned of the risks that would accompany any salary increases during this round of negotiations.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers his Budget speech in Parliament on 24 February 2021. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Public sector unions say they would be tabling wage demands before government at the bargaining council on Monday.

This follows weeks of demands consolidation among the unions as government warned of the risks that would accompany any salary increases during this round of negotiations.

The talks follow last year’s expiry of a three-year agreement, which was successfully contested by the state in its last leg.

The move stopped the wage adjustments of 1.3 million public servants.

Eyewitness News understands that despite the risks the public wage bill poses to the fiscus as explained by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni last week – unions will be tabling demands of inflation plus 1%.

There is also contestation of any multi-year agreement – with unions saying they couldn’t trust the government to honour a three-year term following last year’s dispute that is now in the Constitutional Court.

Government is forging ahead with its intention to cut the public sector wage bill by revealing new plans that contain even more stringent measures last week.

They include exploring getting rid of some allowances and benefits while reviewing pay progressions.

READ MORE: Mboweni on SA economy: There are reasons to be hopeful

Treasury has pinned a lot of its economic turnaround hopes on reducing the wage bill by over R300 billion in the next three years.

While the government said it would engage in the talks on the basis of fairness, equity and affordability it has also spelt out the different risks carried by even the most minimal increases in wages.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said: “The minister of public service is working with organised labour to achieve a fair public sector compensation dispensation when negotiations on a new multi-year wage settlement beginning later this year.”

Inflation-linked increases would make for a shortfall of R112.9 billion by 2024.

If government agrees to inflation plus one as an increase, that shortfall expands to R132.7 billion.

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