Striking unions to consider hike range

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) affiliates will meet on Monday to come up with a range of percentage increases they are prepared to accept to end the three-week-old public-service strike.

It is understood that the Independent Labour Caucus has already set a percentage range within which it can accept a deal.

”The Cosatu unions have not come with any percentage. We’re still standing at 10%,” Cosatu president Willie Madisha said on Sunday. ”We’ll be looking at ranges to finalise this thing.”

Madisha was speaking from the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) in Centurion, south of Pretoria, where government and union negotiators were thrashing out the remaining sticking points.

The issue of a percentage increase will be discussed in a full council meeting on Tuesday or Wednesday.

”We are discussing occupation-specific dispensation, housing, medical aid and the return to work,” said Madisha. ”We think we can be able to move forward; we have narrowed the differences, the only major problem is around the percentage.”

He met other union leaders at the PSCBC on Sunday afternoon before the sitting of the full council.

On Thursday, the government revised its wage proposal to include a 7,25% increase.

”There isn’t a union I know off that’s prepared to accept 7,25%,” said National Professional Teachers’ Union president Dave Balt. He did not say what percentage increase the unions were willing to accept.

”I would love to say we are close. It’s dangerous to say we are close. I think there is still hard bargaining to take place, but we are all … feeling the urgency and pressure to resolve this thing sooner rather than later,” he said.

The strike continues.

Judges upset

Meanwhile, South Africa’s judges have reportedly slammed as ”divisive” plans to raise their salaries by only 17% while certain of their senior colleagues get pay hikes of up to 65%.

According to the Sunday Times, the Moseneke commission has recommended that Chief Justice Pius Langa receive a 65% increase and Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke a 50,56% raise.

It has also recommended that the salaries of the nine judge presidents be upped by 32,28%, but that the 131 ordinary high court judges receive a 16,63% increase.

The ordinary judges have rejected the proposal, the newspaper reported. Langa is to meet with heads of court over the matter. — Sapa

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