PSA members protesting in the downtown Pretoria CBD during the civil servants strike on November 10, 2022.
- The government presented a final offer to the public service unions of an effective wage increase of 7.5%
- The offer continues to be a pensionable base increase of 3% and a non-pensionable increase of 4.5%.
- The Department of Administration and Public Service said the talks urgently need to be concluded before the February budget dictates its fiscal limits.
- For more financial stories, go to News24 Business Cover.
The government has made it clear that the “final offer” presented to unions in stalled public service pay negotiations is an effective 7.5% increase, expected to cost the treasury R34 billion.
The government issued a statement on what it called the final offer on Thursday night, hours after seven unions representing some 800,000 members announced a national day of action in protest against the earlier offer of a 3% raise. Unions are demanding a 10% benchmark raise.
This final offer is made up of a pensionable base increase of 3% and a non-pensionable increase of 4.5%, and does not differ from what was previously presented to the unions.
The Public Servants Association (PSA) already carried out a one-day strike last week due to the stagnation of salary negotiations. Joining the union for another day of action next week are public service unions affiliated with the SA Congress of Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).
READ | Seven public sector unions, representing 800,000 workers, announce a day of strike
A statement from the Department of Administration and Public Services said that the adjustment of its offer was due to its need to balance the livelihoods of civil servants with the stability of the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) presented by the minister. of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, in October.
“Public servants received the final offer of an average of 7.5%, [which is] 3% pensionable and 4.5% non-pensionable at a cost of R34 billion for the treasury, for the fiscal year 2022/23. This covers public servants in the level band 1 to 12 in line with the government’s final offer made to the parties of the Public Service Negotiation Coordinating Council,” the statement said.
The release says the government implemented this final offer in October because if the MTBPS had been submitted without the offer being made, it would have been lost, forcing the parties to wait until the next fiscal year “with no assurances whether the money will still be available in the budget or not”.
“The government remains committed to the bargaining council processes and engagement with organized labor. Maintaining labor peace remains a fundamental part of efforts to professionalize the public service as contained in the professionalization framework approved by the Cabinet,” the statement said.
The department warned that if the parties fail to secure a new agreement and resolve the wage issue, the February budget speech will inform limits on wage negotiations.
“As a government, we remain committed to respecting organized labor, safeguarding collective bargaining processes and promoting labor peace. All measures will be taken to ensure that the bargaining process is protected,” the statement said.
READ | Knock-knock, Enoch: PSA considers marches on ministers’ homes, public pay strike intensified
At Thursday’s briefing, unions said even essential utility workers, a category of employees not allowed to strike, were prepared to lay down their tools.
News24 reached out to several unions for a response to the latest offer, and the unions said they would respond in due course.
*This article has been corrected to reflect that the “final offer” was not a revised 7.5% figure as previously reported. 7.5% is the effective wage increase introduced by the government earlier. News24 regrets the mistake.