| Government wage deal to go ahead, despite urgent call for more consultation

Johannesburg - The Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) will on Monday morning present the agreement to trade unions and government to be signed, as the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) has called for a postponement and asked for more time to consult with members.

Fedusa’s affiliate, the Public Servants Association (PSA) is the only union who has not agreed to the three-year, above-inflation wage deal. All seven Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) affiliates are ready to sign the agreement after the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) consulted with its members over the weekend.

Fedusa’s general secretary Dennis George urged the other unions not to sign the wage deal on Monday.

“This is specifically important because the final offer of the employer is not in accordance with the agreed position of organised labour and therefore, it is essential that trade unions should not hastily agree to sign a long-term-agreement without consultation. It is the constitutional right of public servants to bargain freely and caution must be exercised upon considering the timing of such an offer from the employer.”

However, PSCBC’s general secretary Frikkie de Bruin confirmed to Fin24 that the signing of the deal will go ahead on Monday which the Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo is set to attend.

“We are going into the signing phase,” he said.

De Bruin said that unions who do not sign on Monday will have 21 days to seal the deal before the agreement lapses.

Divisions between unions during the protracted seven months of negotiations became increasingly apparent in recent weeks. The PSA accused Cosatu unions of pandering to President Cyril Ramaphosa, after backing him as ANC leader. His administration has expressed its commitment to cutting the public sector wage bill.

Cosatu unions claimed that despite the PSA declaring a dispute, it continued to negotiate at the PSCBC in bad faith. The union has 238 000 members of more than 1.3 million civil servants and will find it difficult to strike without a majority backing it.

The three-year wage 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 see 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%.

Dlodlo will brief the media on Monday afternoon about the terms of the public sector wage deal.* SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.

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