South Africa

Public sector unions vow to get better wages for their members

Johannesburg - Public sector unions have unanimously demanded that the government give them a 4% salary increase across the board or face their wrath.

The unions tabled their demands at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council on Monday. Included in their demand was an urgent call to the government to abolish levels 1 to 3 and allow all public servants to be employed on an entry level 4.

The unions are also demanding that the government increase the housing allowance to R2 500, saying the current amount of R1 300 was too little.

Mugwena Maluleke, who represents Cosatu affiliated unions at the Bargaining Council, was on Tuesday adamant that their demands were a “mutual interest” matter for the workers and the employer.

“We presented our demands to the employer. Our view is that the R1 300 housing allowance is too little. Our members do not qualify for a mortgage loan when they approach the different banks in the country. Adding to their misery, they also do not qualify for a RDP house,” Maluleke said.

If they succeed, unions expect their demands to come into effect from April 1 this year.

Maluleke said their demands are aimed at finding solutions to the current impasse between the employees and government, saying if common ground is not found between the parties, the unions will be able to declare a dispute which would entitle them to go on strike.

Public Service Association (PSA) president Dr Lufuno Mulaudzi agreed with the sentiments, saying their primary aim was to improve the living conditions of their members.

Dr Mulaudzi emphasised that the unions were demanding a single term agreement, saying that the government had reneged on Resolution 1 of the 2018 agreement – which was an agreement to increase public servants’ wages after three years. The unions have now approached the Constitutional Court to rule on the matter after the Labour Appeals Court ruled in favour of the government that it should not increase salaries due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The unions have also asked the government to provide a danger allowance of 12% of the basic salary of front-line workers who are faced with disasters such as the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

In their document, the unions have also asked the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to create a housing investment portfolio that would directly invest in the scheme.

The unions have also asked for the government to increase the capacity of its employees by ensuring the permanent employment of community development workers.

“An urgent need exists for the government to increase capacity, not only in the health sector, but also in correctional services to address the inmate-member ratio and in the police.

“Labour is demanding the full-time employment of all fixed term contract employees who have been in the department for more than four months,” the document stated.

The unions are also demanding a special leave provision for workers who are victims of gender-based violence, given the rising atrocities and to allow for such victims to receive proper medical and social intervention.

The unions are also demanding an end to prolonged suspensions, frivolous litigation and mismanagement of funds in government.

“It is demanded for immediate action and the development of alternative means and an action plan to address prolonged suspensions in the public service, the avoidance, curbing and resolving of matters that are taken for frivolous litigation and plans with time frames on the recovering of mismanaged funds and those lost to corruption.

“This will also contribute to proper management of state resources and a subsequent long-term increase in state revenue,” the document stated.

The government is expected to respond to the demands on March 16 and 17.

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Political Bureau

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