South Africa reaches interim pay deal with public-servant unions

South Africa’s government said it reached an interim pay deal with unions representing a majority of civil servants, averting the threat of an imminent strike.

The agreement was signed Monday by the South African Democratic Teacher’s Union, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, the Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa, the Public Servants Association of South Africa and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, the Ministry of Public Service and Administration said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

It didn’t specify the terms and duration of the deal.

“There are going to be further engagements between the parties” and the interim accord will apply until a new one is finalized, Kamogelo Mogotsi, a spokeswoman for Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu, said by phone. “It is open-ended.”

The government needs to curb spending on civil-servant wages to meet its expenditure ceiling and deficit-reduction targets, but has encountered opposition from politically influential labor groups representing 1.3 million state workers.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni has vowed that any raises must be accommodated within the current fiscal framework, and other expenditure will have to be cut should a planned pay freeze fail to materialize.

The interim accord, which provides for 1.5% raises and a cash gratuity for civil servants, is a “stop-gap measure” because negotiations failed to deliver a binding agreement, said Claude Naiker, a spokesperson for the Public Servants Association, which represents more than 230,000 state workers.

The increases and gratuity will be backdated until the start of the fiscal year on April 1, he said.


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South Africa reaches interim pay deal with public-servant unions