Strike: Negotiators inch closer to deal

As the country braces itself for a mass public-sector protest action on Wednesday, government and union negotiators moved closer to clinching a deal in the wage talks.

Talks between the two parties at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) in Centurion, south of Pretoria, continued well into the early hours of Wednesday morning.

”We have responses to the mediators’ proposal. The responses had been crystallised and handed out to the parties and we’ve agreed that they are going to go back and report to their constituencies and we are going to reconvene on Thursday,” said independent mediator Charles Nupen.

He would not divulge any details, but the South African Press Association has learned that the parties have drawn up a new document containing a full proposal on a wage increase package for public servants.

The document was drawn up using the mediators’ original proposal after government negotiators indicated that the government was willing to accept the mediators’ proposal to up its offer to 7,25% from 6,5%.

Several of the people involved in talks said the parties now agreed on most of the proposals. The only major outstanding issues remaining are the across-the-board percentage for a wage increase, with unions indicating that they were not ready to accept the 7,25% increase.

Unions are demanding a 10% increase, down from an initial

demand of 12%.

There was also apparently still disagreement on the medical aid subsidy.

The other outstanding matter which was not part of the wage package was government’s dismissal of striking essential services workers, the no-work-no-pay agreement and the imprisonment of some of the union’s representatives.

The parties are due back at the PSCBC on Thursday.

Strike action was expected to intensify on Wednesday, when solidarity action from other sectors is expected to start.

”This is the pinnacle, the peak of the action,” Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Willie Madisha said on Tuesday.

”It will be a complete shutdown with the advantage that other non-public service unions would join the action.”

Unions are set to march in provincial centres countrywide, mostly from 10am, with picketing and stayaways also taking place.

Schools, hospitals, municipalities, border-posts, airports and administrative staff would be affected, said Madisha.

Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said the government was putting contingency

measures in place.

”In the event that it does happen we have taken contingency measures to make sure that hospitals and schools are secure.” – Sapa

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