Big public sector strike planned for South Africa

The Public Servants Association (PSA) said it will go on a national strike if the government does not deviate from its 0%-wage increase offer for the 2021/22 financial year.

The PSA is one of the largest parties at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council and represents more than 235,000 public workers.

The association said that public servants should have received their salary increases with effect from 1 April 2021.

“Negotiations resumed on 15 April 2021 where the employer responded to labour’s demands. The response was utterly disappointing and an insult to labour as it only responded positively to some issues, which have no direct short-term financial benefit for employees.”

The association said that the government’s offer for the cost-of-living adjustment for the 2021/22-financial year was a 0% increase. The rest of the substantive demands by labour were also rejected, it said.

Government has remained steadfast in its decision to introduce a salary freeze for South Africa’s 1.3 million public servants during the 2021/22 financial year.

In response, unions have threatened industrial action that would see key public servants such as doctors and nurses embark on a strike.

Government is expected to respond to the union’s demands with a revised offer on Friday, 23 April, after which further action will be determined.

“We will shut down public service until the government takes our demands seriously,” said Reuben Maleka, assistant general manager of the Public Servants Association (PSA), which represents state workers including teachers, attorneys, police officers and others.

“Public servants can no longer pay the price for the country’s economic woes fuelled by rampant fraud, corruption, and mismanagement,” said Maleka.

Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget published in February assume an effective nominal public sector wage freeze over the next three years.

The government’s fiscal strategy over the next three years will be to narrow the deficit and stabilise the debt-to-GDP ratio, Treasury said in its budget on 24 February.

In a separate issue, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) and the United National Transport Union (UNTU) declared a wage dispute with Transnet on Thursday.

The dispute arose after the government-owned entity offered a 3% non-pensionable allowance on basic salary as a wage increase. If the dispute is not settled,  it could lead to strike action the unions said.

Read: South Africa to get new business-specific plans – with heavy focus on transformation: minister

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Big public sector strike planned for South Africa