SAFTU wants to reverse the signed public sector agreement

SAFTU leaders during a march in Cape Town against the minimum wage and the labour law amendments, 12 April 2018. Photo by Mzi Velapi

SAFTU has condemned the 3-year wage agreement that has been signed by Cosatu affliates in the public sector.

Johannesburg, South Africa

Public sector unions affiliated to the South African Federation of Trade Unions have raised their dissatisfaction over the offer that has been signed by the majority of unions calling it “the worst betrayal of the public sector”. This follows a recent wage offer by the government that was accepted by more than 65% of the public sector unions which are mainly affiliated to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU), National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU), Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), Public and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (PAWUSA) and South African Medical Association (SAMA) have all signed the 2018/2021 deal which SAFTU has described as “worse than the 2014–2017 agreement”.

According to SAFTU, the agreement signed in 2014 was not favourable to workers. “The agreement imposed a wage improvement on inflation plus a 1% real improvement. To add insult to injury, the agreement stated that the inflation improvement would be based on the focus determined by the Treasury alone,” reads the statement.

The one-year-old federation also says that the agreement does not make real changes to the housing allowance “which remained at the insulting R900. The agreement introduced a housing subsidy but only for R1,200. This is the reason why that as we speak only 5.7% of workers own their own houses in the public sector,” argues SAFTU.

“In this year’s round of negotiations, Cosatu again now claiming to be presenting 59% of the workforce, signed another sweetheart deal with the government behind the backs of the public servants and without receiving a mandate even from their own members,” reads the statement that was signed by six public sector unions affiliated to SAFTU.

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The Joint Mandating Committee representing Cosatu’s public sector unions and the employer agreed that for 2018/19 workers on levels 1 to 7 would get inflation (as measured by the consumer price index) plus 1.5 percent increases this year, those on salaries 8 to 10 would get CPI plus 1 percent and those on levels 11 to 12, CPI plus 0.5 percent.

The statement by the Cosatu committee welcomes the delinking of employees from spouses since “this will bring to an end discrimination against married couples in the public sector as the delinking will mean that each spouse will be entitled to the housing allowance.” While SAFTU agrees that this is a victory, it is wary about the “further delay in the implementation” because the agreement states that the delinking will be implemented only in September.

The agreement includes the abolition of levels 1-3 which will be dealt with “as part the review of Resolution 3 of 2009”. SAFTU on the other hand feels that this is no different from the way some issues have been dealt with in the past.

“The government has found a way of relegating important workers’ demands into [an] ‘outstanding matters’ dustbin. Important demands of workers have not been dealt with, for many as far back as in 2009, such as Resolution 3 of 2009. Yet government is promising that these issues will be dealt with within the next 3 months. But, they have failed to do so in the last 9 years. We know that at the end of three months the unions who represent the majority will be signing an extension for three months, and another extension for each 3 months for the next three years.”

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The federation has decided to go on a recruitment drive and to explain their stance to workers. “Should we succeed to tilt the balance of forces, which means should more workers in the next few months join our unions, we shall immediately embark on a strike to reverse the agreement signed by the current majority.”




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