Cosatu tables 10% wage hike at Public Service Bargaining Council meeting

However, the Treasury is adamant that it cannot spend more than the R20 billion, which has been budgeted for the wages in the current fiscal framework.

Cosatu President Zingiswa Losi leads the march to Treasury in Pretoria for the national strike on 7 October 2020. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The majority of the country's public service unions have tabled a 10% wage increase demand as the latest round of wage negotiations get under way at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council.

However, the Treasury is adamant that it cannot spend more than the R20 billion, which has been budgeted for the wages in the current fiscal framework.

The gap between what has been demanded including other benefits such as housing allowances spells a rocky time ahead for union and government negotiators, who have just come out of a public service summit last month seeking solutions to the wage structure.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Thursday said the demands were influenced by a number of factors, including the non-implementation of wage increases in 2020.

On top of the 10% in the cost-of-living adjustment proposal, workers also want R2,500 for housing allowances and the permanent employment of contract employees including teacher assistants and community health workers.

In a statement, the federation - which leads the majority of unions in the sector - said the double digit increase in demand was informed by domestic and global financial volatility which had pushed up the cost of living.

Last year, government and workers struck a one-year deal for 1.5% salary increases plus cash payments after months of negotiations which were characterised by strike threats as the state refused to give into labour's demand of up to 7% in increases.