The government should ensure there is a moratorium on salary increases in the upper levels of government, the South African Communist Party said on Sunday.
“The wage gap in the public sector between the highest paid and the lowest paid is 91 to one”, secretary general Blade Nzimande said, calling on the government and public-sector unions to resolve the indefinite strike speedily.
“The longer it is prolonged, the more everyone suffers and the danger of unbridgeable positions becoming entrenched increases.”
He condemned acts of violence accompanying the strike — now on the brink of its third week.
Nzimande said threats of physical attacks against students and teachers, as well as neglecting patients at intensive care units, were all acts of punishment against the poor.
“These forms of gross indiscipline detract from the legitimacy of the struggle and divides rather than unites the working class,” he said.
He said most of the formal sector workers, including public-service workers in key areas like education, healthcare and policing, did not qualify for government subsidised RDP housing, and could also not afford private bank mortgages.
“Increases in the housing allowance paid to public service workers might help alleviate some of their problems,” he said.
About 1,3 million public service workers embarked on an indefinite strike in a bid to push government to concede to their 8,6% salary hike and R1 000 housing per month allowance demand.
The government offered a 7% pay hike and a R700 housing allowance.
Nzimande said whatever the outcomes of the strike, the ANC-led alliance partners needed to sit down and analyse the reasons for the strike.
He said one of the issues to be discussed was the way wage bargaining was conducted in the public sector.
“Public-sector wage bargaining should precede the passing of the budget, and we need to find means for doing this,” he said.
He said another area that needed urgent attention was an effective definition and a consensus upon what constituted essential services.
Soldiers won’t join strike
Meanwhile, members of the SA Security Forces Union (Sasfu) will not join the strike, union president Bhekinkosi Mvovo said on Sunday.
“We will not join the strike because of the Constitutional Court ruling of 1999 which prohibits soldiers to strike,” he said after the union meeting in Cape Town.
Mvovo said they will instead stage a march and picket.