Trade union federation the Public Servants Association (PSA), which has 230 000 members, has promised public protest and indefinite strikes — including at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) — over longstanding failed wage negotiations.
The PSA said it would begin a fresh round of strike action on Monday June 11, starting with protests it is calling a “Day of Rage”.
The federation said that it had lodged a notice to strike.
Letsatsi Modise, a director responsible for collective bargaining within the department of public service and administation, confirmed the department had received a strike notice from the PSA. He said that, in the department’s view, the strike would be unprotected and there would be consequences for members who participated.
PSA deputy general secretary Tahir Maepa told Fin24 it was untrue that the strike was illegal.
The PSA wants a 12% increase across the board for its members, Maepa said on Wednesday. This is less that the wage offer being proposed by government, and negotiations have stalled. Maepa said the federation didn’t want to accept an offer that was “worse than the offer we had in the past”.
Strike action is also looming at Sassa.
The PSA first announced that strikes by its almost 5 000 Sassa members were on the cards after an agreement could not be reached on salary increases for employees.
“The PSA, as a professional and responsible union, is aware that the strike will affect the most vulnerable members of society and hence opted to delay serving the strike notice to afford SASSA a further opportunity to table its offer.
“The PSA also attempted on several occasions to have an audience with the Minister of Social Development to, among other [things], address SASSA’s failure to conclude on wage negotiations,” said PSA general manager Ivan Fredericks.
‘Jacob Zuma will not have to worry’
Maepa told Fin24 on Wednesday that the federation’s intention was not to shut down essential services such as hospitals or police services. However, it wanted to “disrupt”.
“The strike will be indefinite,” he said. “It will be disruptive. When we are on strike, Jacob Zuma does not have to worry that he will be prosecuted, because there will be nobody in the courts.”
“We are expecting to close down all the border gates of this country,” he added. “We are closing down the department of water affairs, where we have the majority.
The strike would have significant economic costs, Maepa warned. “Our disruption is going to hit where it matters most.” — Fin24
*Additional reporting by Vukile Nsibande