By Edwin Ntshidi for EWN
Talks between public sector unions and government have deadlocked.
This comes after marathon talks between state negotiators and the Public Servants Association (PSA).
The association, one of the largest parties at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council, tabled a wage demand of over 7% – with government saying it cannot afford the demand.
Government proposed a 0% increase but has been willing to talk.
The PSA and government negotiators met until late last night in an attempt to avert a strike that could see over 200,000 government workers downing tools.
However, the parties could not find each other as the association’s Ruben Maleka elaborates.
“It is regrettable that last night we could not find each other with the employer. The employer would not revise its offer of 0%.”
Wage negotiations stalled after the government did not accede to public servants’ wage demand of CPI plus 4%.
Instead, the government said the demands are out of sync with the Fiscal Framework.
With talks now deadlocked, this paves a way for unions to declare a dispute.
Should the strike go ahead, it will result in public servants in the public sector embarking on industrial action while the country faces the COVID-19 health crisis.
What will happen next?
- Unions are finalising declaring a dispute after the deadlock
- Then the matter will be conciliated
- Should that fail, unions can apply for a strike certificate
Earlier in the week, Public Service and Public Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu described this year’s wage talks as “the most difficult negotiations” the country has ever faced.
He urged government and labour representatives to put the public service first and not treat each other as adversaries.
The bad state of the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for drastic changes in the public service are just some of the reasons Mchunu listed as factors that have made this year’s talks the most difficult.
National Treasury aims to cut about R300 billion from the public wage bill in the next three years as it becomes ever more apparent that government cannot afford to foot the bill as the pressure on the fiscus increases.
However, trade unions are equally under pressure to appease their members who have gone without wage adjustments in the past year.