Unions go back to members with pay offer

The protracted public servants’ strike continued on Thursday with the Congress of South African Trade Unions and Independent Labour Caucus (ILC) declaring a “preliminary” rejection of the government’s latest pay offer.

Following a meeting between the two on Thursday, ILC chairperson Chris Klopper said: “Some of the unions found it extremely difficult to sell to their constituencies. They will now enter into processes of explaining the document to representatives and members.”

The document goes beyond the widely reported 7,5% wage increase and R800 housing allowance offer and includes proposals on medical scheme payments and the minimum service-level agreement.

“The ILC decided that because the majority of unions were leaning towards the negative, we won’t have any other option other than that we also reject the offer.”

But said, Klopper, this was subject to the ILC and Congress of SA Trade Unions continuing consulting their members.

“They must factor in if further participation in industrial action will render further gains and what public opinion is, and then most of all what the cost of further strike action will be in terms of no-work, no-pay in terms of gains.”

They hoped for a decision by Monday.

“Labour unity is important and we must protect each other and therefore it is a question of further unity.”

According to a copy of the latest offer on the Public Servants’ Association website, the government had withdrawn the offer on the table on August 20. At the time, the government said it intended unilaterally implementing the offer, because it had no more money.

The new proposal, made on August 31, consists of an across-the-board increase of 7,5% and a housing allowance of R800 a month, compared with the current R500, both with effect from July 1.

The government further committed itself t developing and implementing a home ownership scheme; investigating the equalisation of the medical aid subsidy; and finalising the minimum service-level agreement.

It intended to implement by April 1 a post-retirement medical subsidy for Government Employees Medical Scheme members which was aligned with that of serving employees.

It also wanted to align the negotiation processes with the Budget process, with a new round of talks starting in October and concluding on July 31.

Part of the agreement would be measures for public servants to return to work after the strike.

Picket lines
Meanwhile, strikers in Gauteng were urged to report to picket lines at hospitals and schools at 6.30am on Friday.

Joe MpiSi, from the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union, said: “All the hospitals must be closed tomorrow and people must be at the picket lines at 6.30am” at the conclusion of a march
through Johannesburg.

“All the clinics in the township must be closed.
All schools in Soweto must be closed. This strike can only come to an end if all our members respond to this call,” he said.

He also called on union members to identify anyone who had been drinking alcohol during Thursday’s march because “we want everybody to behave. We are fighting a genuine cause”.

Next week they would visit a “very strategic building” in Johannesburg to “make things happen”.

Debbie Raphuti from the Democratic Nurses Organisation also said people with cars should be at Mary Fitzgerald Square at 10am for a convoy to an as-yet unnamed destination. - Sapa

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