/ 19 May 2018

PSA not budging as government, unions agree to above-inflation wage hikes

It was still unclear on Friday night
It was still unclear on Friday night

An agreement was finally reached on Friday evening in the protracted public sector wage negotiations but at least one union, the Public Servants Association (PSA) will not sign it.

The deal will see 7% increases for junior employees for 2018/2019, backdated to April 1, when the previous agreement lapsed.

Mid-level employees will receive 6.5% increases and senior staff will have raises of 6%.

The agreement for the first year for the entire civil service is above inflation increases with the Bureau of Economic Research projecting Consumer Price Index (CPI) at 5.2% in 2018.

The increases for the second and third years of the wage agreement are on a sliding scale.

Unions who tabled their demands in October initially wanted increases of between 10% to 12%

PSA sticking to its guns

The PSA which represents 238 000 members is still sticking to its demand for 10% raises across the board and balloted its members this week towards a strike.

When asked by Fin24 about the agreement, PSA’s deputy general secretary Tahir Moepa admitted that because the majority of unions have accepted the offer, it will apply to all government employees but he said they would “never” sign the deal in its current format.

“We [are] hoping to assert pressure on other unions not to sign but if that fails we would have been defeated by unions not the employer and they must live with the consequences,” Moepa said in a WhatsApp message to Fin24 on Saturday morning.

Parties are set to reconvene on Monday at 11am for the signing agreement and the full contents of the three year deal will be published then.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers (Nehawu) is the only one of the seven public sector unions affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) which has indicated it might not sign the agreement.

It was still unclear on Friday night, whether the union, which is the largest in the public sector, would sign on Monday or require further consultation with its members first.

The Independent Labour Caucus, except for the PSA, is ready to accept the deal.

Other wage issues

According to a statement on Friday evening by general secretary of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) Frikkie De Bruin, the issue of equalisation of pay progression was also ironed out.

“Parties agree to the equalisation of pay progression across the public service at 1.5% per annum to employees appointed in the public service.”

A key demand of unions was also the delinking of housing allowances for spouses where only one partner working in the public sector would receive a housing allowance. Labour argued that this prejudiced married people and changes to this policy will be undertaken incrementally.

The delinking of the housing allowances will be effective for junior employees from September 2018 and from September 2019 for mid-level and senior employees.

De Bruin thanked the Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo and trade union leaders for “managing this very tedious process” and expressed appreciation to public servants for their patience during the protracted negotiations “without having to revert to industrial action”. — Fin24