A thaw in the virtual wage freeze
In 2001/02 state employees received below-inflation pay hikes. But, in the past four years, hikes have been above inflation, though the nominal increase fell from 8,5% in 2003 to 5,3% last year.
In addition, working in the public sector is much less lucrative than in the private sector.
The median wage for workers with tertiary degrees in the private sector is R8 000.
In the public sector it is R6 000.
Since the late Nineties, workers’ share of the budget pie has shrunk, while the number of civil servants has declined from 1,27-million in 1995 to just over a million in 2002.
- In 2001/02, state workers received an average 6,58% increase, with inflation at 9,7%.
- In 2003/04, the salary increase was 8,5%, which equalled inflation (CPIX) plus 1%.
- Chief union negotiator Shireen Pardesi said the three-year agreement signed in 2004 amounted to a 6,2% increase for public servants in the first year, which amounted to an increase of inflation plus 2,1%.
- In the second year of the 2004 agreement, the parties settled on an increase of inflation plus 0,4%, which Pardesi said amounted to about 5,7%.
- The 2006 increase was 5,3%, said Pardesi, and this formed the state’s initial bargaining position in the current pay talks. CPIX was 3,8% and CPI 3,2%.
Pardesi says that salary increases should not be linked to CPIX because to do so would not take account of the impact of food and retail price rises which invariably outstrip CPIX.