Strike action is imminent among government employees with members from Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) and National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) joining forces with other unions.
This follows a joint media briefing by Public Service Unions, consisting of POPCRU, NEHAWU, DENOSA, SAEPU, PAWUSA, SAMATU, NUPSAW, and SAPU which focused on the wage disputes which began during the course of 2022.
As Newcastillians will remember, public servants, picketed in October 2022, with a small group in attendance outside Madadeni Provincial Hospital. This followed a deadlock in salary negotiations between public servants and the South African Government.
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Now four months later, the Public Service Unions said, “After butchering public servants in 2020/21 and 2021/22, in the current financial year of 2022/23 the employer still expects us to accept a pathetic 3% wage increase. Yet, this is a financial year in which the cost of living skyrocketed as inflation hit a 13-year record of 7.8% in July last year and remained above 7%. Statistics South Africa recently found that inflation still remains very high at 6.9% in January 2023.”
With this in mind, the group of unions stressed that 3% was clearly not a wage increase – when taking into account the rising cost of living.
“We considered the unilateral implementation of this 3% increase in the middle of the dispute as yet another attack on collective bargaining and undermining of the workers’ representative trade unions,” the unions added.
The Public Service Unions highlighted that the country’s one million plus public service workers pour their hard labour into ensuring that the citizens of this country receive public services.
“They endure difficult living conditions as a result of low wages and the inability to access state housing. This includes the fact that their buying power has been eroded since the non-implementation of the last leg of Resolution 1 of 2018. They commit their time and skills by overextending themselves in their posts because the government has failed to fill vacant posts for years and overtime is generally not paid,” elaborated the unions further.
Not making headway with the government, the unions stated that they still felt a 10% increase was justified. However, if the proposed increase was not achieved, they were ready to take action.
“To this effect, we have resolved to continue with our campaign we started in 2022 as there is no logical basis to look forward to the next collective bargaining round for 2023/24 cycle given the track record, political posture and badly displayed by the employer,” said the unions.
Therefore, the collective group will embark on a program of action that will see their negotiators no longer participating in any activity of the PSCBC until the 2022/2023 dispute is resolved.
“We have already started engaging our members to revive the mandate, mobilise and ballot them for the strike action,” they said.
The unions will be serving the government with the notice for strike action on Thursday, 23 February 2023.
“We have resolved to rally our collective might to push the employer to improve the rejected offer and will use everything in our power to register our disdain for the government’s attitude,” concluded the Public Services Unions.
As public service union members now prepare for strike action, what are your thoughts on the above-mentioned?
Share your views in the comment section below.