Strike: Unions to consult members

Public-service unions will consult with their membership before deciding to accept or reject government’s revised salary package, which includes a 7,25% wage-increase offer.

The unions also said they were concerned that the salaries of some public servants had been withheld on Friday. Many public servants are paid on the 15th of the month.

”We have instructed our attorneys to collate the information and, if necessary, to proceed with a court order. We see this as an attempt by government to victimise our members and break the strike,” said Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Willie Madisha.

He was speaking at a media conference at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) in Centurion, Pretoria, hosted by all 17 public-service unions.

Earlier on Friday a technical task team — consisting of the mediators and government and labour negotiators — met to discuss minimum service agreements and suggestions on how to deal with dismissed workers and the ”no work, no pay” rule.

It is understood that there is a proposal that dismissed workers be allowed to return to work where they will receive a warning instead of being fired. Unions declined to comment on this.

Madisha said unions were not happy with the 7,25% general wage increase, but would take government’s revised salary package proposal to their members before returning for a full sitting of the PSCBC on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, a small group of protesting public-service workers barged through the gates, demonstrating illegally on the premises in support of labour demands.

A confrontation was avoided when police and the building management agreed to allow the protesters to continue protesting as their action remained peaceful.

Urgent application

Meanwhile, the South African Police Service is to bring an urgent court application on Friday to stop police from joining the public-service strike as it enters its third week.

Spokesperson Director Selby Bokaba said the application would be lodged in the Labour Court in Johannesburg at 6pm.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said it would oppose the action.

A Cosatu-affiliate, Popcru has 120 000 members, just over half of them police officials.

It had not joined the strike until now because of an interdict obtained by the government earlier in the strike preventing action by essential-service workers, said Popcru national spokesperson Pat Ntsobi.

However, Cosatu had since ”pronounced itself on the issue”, he said.

Cosatu believed it was not essential workers’ fault that the government had ”dragged its feet for the past 10 years”, and argued that it ”must have anticipated there would be a strike in these sectors”.

Ntsobi said Popcru’s national congress, which ended on Thursday in Cape Town, had resolved to assess the status of the pay negotiations at the close of business on Friday.

It adopted a resolution that if the dispute was not resolved by Friday, the union ”will be left with no other option but to join the public service strike”.

”For those who think this is an empty threat, they do not know who Popcru is,” Popcru president Zizamele Cebekhulu warned at the congress.

”We do not make empty threats. Give the workers what they deserve or face the mighty anger of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union.” — Sapa

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