Strike mediators craft new proposal

Following another impasse in the public service wage talks, independent mediators on Sunday came up with their own proposal of what a comprehensive wage offer should look like.

Mediators Charles Nupen and Meshack Ravuku, who have been mediating the talks since Friday, drew up a document which was handed to government and union negotiators late on Sunday night.

”We had an opportunity to be with both parties, to interact with them, and out of that we have come up with proposals we believe that will be able to appease the parties to reach settlement,” said Ravuku.

Government’s chief negotiator Kenny Govender and the unions’ chief negotiator Shireen Pardesi assisted the mediators in coming up with the new proposal.

Details of the proposal were not made public but it is believed to contain proposals on all the major sticking points including the wage percentage increase, housing and medical aid subsidies, and the date of implementation of occupation-specific dispensations.

The mediators gave negotiators until Tuesday to discuss it with their constituencies before returning to the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council.

”The future of dispute really lies in their hands,” Nupen said.

He said the mediators would convene Tuesday’s meeting. The negotiators were instructed not to discuss the details of the proposal with the media.

The parties spent much of the weekend locked in discussions. On Sunday talks started late as Govender attended a meeting with Cabinet ministers, including Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, at Union Buildings.

Coinciding with that meeting was a visit to union negotiators by Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Willie Madisha, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and other senior public service union leaders.

Vavi said the unions wanted to find a solution but called on all workers to ”continue and intensify” the strike until a settlement was reached.

At the Union Buildings, Fraser-Moleketi appealed to public servants to return to work as ”we are confident that resolution will soon be reached”. – Sapa

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