South Africa | UN agency roped in to break public sector wage deadlock as nationwide strike looms

Unions want an inflation-related increase plus 4%. (Getty)

Unions want an inflation-related increase plus 4%. (Getty)

As government and public sector unions remain deadlocked over wage negotiations, additional help has been roped in to facilitate talks and avert a potential strike by civil servants. 

Facilitation proceedings started on Sunday and, Fin24 understands, by Monday the internal processes of facilitation were still being sorted out. 

Mugwena Maluleke of the SA Democratic Teachers' Union told Fin24 on Monday afternoon that the negotiation process was now being assisted by an independent facilitator and, over and above that, the International Labour Organisation is also involved in the facilitation. 

The ILO is the oldest specialised agency of the United Nations. 

"This is a decision of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) in order to break the impasse," said Maluleke.

Reuben Maluleka, spokesperson of the Public Servants' Association (PSA) - which has more than 235 000 members in the civil service - told Fin24 the process is the last hope for a solution. 

Last week the public sector unions met with the PSCBC in an effort to break the deadlock in negotiations, which started more than two weeks ago. 

Unions want an inflation-related increase plus 4% - therefore 7% in total. Government, on the other hand, is offering a 0% increase on the cost-of-living adjustment, pleading budgetary constraints.

The success of National Treasury's fiscal consolidation plan largely depends on being able to curb the wage bill.

The Public Servants' Association said in the past that it believes that fraud, corruption, mismanagement, and wasteful expenditure have brought the SA economy to a dire situation it is currently in - and now workers must pay a high price.

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