The 230 000-strong Public Servants Association (PSA) is set to down tools on 11 June, after its members rejected a wage deal offered by the government.Business Day reports that PSA GM Ivan Fredericks has confirmed that the union had notified the Department of Public Service and Administration as well as the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council of its intention to strike. The offer from the government includes wage increases of 6% to 7% for 2018 and consumer price index plus 1% for successive years. However, it still does not enjoy majority support from unions, more than a week after the government presented it. Workers are demanding increases of 10%-12%. Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has warned that the government would have to cut back on critical services if it failed to rein in pay increases, which stood at R587bn. The report says the strike will see members of the PSA down tools indefinitely pending further talks with the government.
Fredericks said members were frustrated, reports The Times. ‘Nothing is happening. She (Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo) is not coming with a better offer. There’re no talks taking place and we just feel that we have talked the whole time now‚’ he said. ‘The PSA has heard the members’ cry and can only ensure that this cry is also heard by the employer and those who have chosen to sign such an agreement‚ if you continue to grant the PSA your support and participate fully in the planned action‚’ the union said on social media. Fredericks said the PSA would dissuade employees that offer essential services – such as police officers and doctors – from striking‚ but called on other employees and unions to join. ‘We have enough people at serious points such as Home Affairs. It can have a crippling effect if all the people at those strategic departments down tools.’
PSA’s threat has heightened tensions with its rival Cosatu, which has called the PSA’s bluff, describing it as ‘nonsensical’. According to report in The New Age, Cosatu-aligned unions, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union as well as the SA Democratic Teachers Union, confirmed they had signed the agreement on the government’s wage offer. But PSA deputy GM Tahir Maepa said: ‘This agreement was crafted during the bilateral between Cosatu and the employer at the exclusion of the PSA, (it) was done in such a rush and after this was done the Cosatu unions said they were okay with the agreement.’ Cosatu lead negotiator Mike Shingange said Cosatu would be sitting out of the PSA’s looming strike action. Nehawu deputy secretary general December Mavuso said the notice by PSA had not put any pressure on them as they were ‘still consulting’ their members.