The Public Service Unions under COSATU, FEDUSA and SAFTU notes with disdain the misleading statement by the Acting Minister of Public Service and Administration (PSA), Thulas Nxesi on the implementation of final wage offer of an average of 7.5%.
The misleading statement has led to erroneous media reports saying that public service unions have rejected a revised offer of 7.5% from the employer. This is not true, there was never a 7.5% offer that was presented at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council [PSCBC], but the government has been trying to pull the wool over public servants by distorting the offer.
This latest attempt by the Acting Minister is but an outdated exercise to try to demobilise workers’ ongoing demonstrations which will culminate in a national day of action on Tuesday, 22 November 2022.
For the last two years, workers have not received any increase but have been given an untaxed R1000 stipend across the board. This stipend did not affect the baseline variations and was also non-pensionable. It was extended at the beginning of this financial year while negotiations were ongoing. The only offer that was presented by the government was a 3% baseline salary increase across the board.
The government has sneakily decided to combine the R1000 stipend, and a 3% baseline increase in its calculations and rounded it up to a fictitious 7.5% increase. This means that the government is making an extraordinary claim that this R1000 stipend amounts to 4.5% and combined with their current 3% offer, this amounts to 7.5%.
In other words, government’s flawed, and sneaky calculations read as follows:
The Acting Minister further misleads the public that they are recognising public servants for their continued service, dedication and hard work and that the purchasing power of salaries of public servants retains value.
The buying power of public servants has been weakened since 2020, when the same government refused to implement the last leg of the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018 and this has been a trend to date. This forms part of the broader agenda of implementing austerity measures through reducing the public wage bill and attacking collective bargaining and rights of workers.
These actions by the government are the actions of a desperate and confrontational employer who is hell-bent on pushing workers onto a full-blown strike. They are unapologetic about imposing an extreme austerity strategy that seeks to make the public service workers a sacrificial lamb in their quest of attaining their ambitious fiscal target.
We reject the misleading call for labour to return to the council. What government is saying is that labour must come back to negotiate for 2023/2024 and from where they are, it is evident that they are going to present a similar pathetic below inflation increase (such as 3%) and use the public service act to again unilaterally implement it. This government has no respect for collective bargaining process and the PSCBC as a platform for social dialogue. How do we heed to the call knowing very well what they are intending to do! They are on record saying they have closed the 2022/2023 chapter, yet the Minister lies and say they want to resolve the dispute.
Lastly, we remain resolute and prepared to take government head-on as it relates to the improving the conditions of living for public servants.