Unions: We agree to the new wage deal but...

On Monday night, the government secured majority support for the settlement, which will see all public servants receiving 1.5% in pay progression and R1,000 in monthly cash payments.

FILE: Public servants marched through Cape Town on 26 August 2010 to increase pressure on government to up its wage offer. Picture: Janine Willemans/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Public sector unions that have signed the new agreement have described it as a celebration, while agreeing that it is a compromise deal in the light of their members’ original demands.

On Monday night, the government secured majority support for the settlement, which will see all public servants receiving 1.5% in pay progression and R1,000 in monthly cash payments.

Not all public sector unions backed the deal.

The unions that agreed said on Tuesday current conditions in the country, including the impact of COVID-19 and the economic decline, forced their members to reconsider their demands. But they stressed that the deal was an interim measure.

Independent caucus leader Basil Manuel said: “This time around, we have an economy that is looking bleaker by the minute and yes, we cannot pretend to the South African public that we are not aware of this. That would be a serious indictment on the unions. We have to take that into consideration.”

The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), which did not sign the deal, argued that the agreement set a bad precedent for collective bargaining, while not improving workers’ income.

Nehawu vice-president Mike Shingange said: “The gratuity is going to set back the public servants, like we are seeing in the other sectors, with employees being on the [Temporary Employee Relief Scheme]. That is what we are not going to allow as public servants.”

Public employees who qualified for bi-annual pay progression increases will still receive them over and above the 1.5% hike.

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