- The Public Servants' Association has given up on an independent facilitation attempt to try to break a wage deadlock.
- It has declared a dispute - which means its 235 000 members could go on strike by the second week of June.
- Other unions are still continuing with the ten-day independent facilitation process, which started on Sunday.
The Public Servants' Association (PSA) has given up on an attempt to solve a public sector wage deadlock by roping in additional help from the UN's International Labour Organisation to facilitate talks.
Last week the public sector unions met with the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council in an effort to break the deadlock in negotiations, which started more than two weeks ago.
The resultant independent facilitation proceedings started on Sunday, and Fin24 understands that by Monday talks were still ongoing on how the process would work. An independent facilitator is involved, as well as representatives from the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ILO is the oldest specialised agency of the United Nations.
The independent facilitation is one of the last hopes of avoiding a strike.
But Reuben Maleka, spokesperson of the PSA, said the union, which has more than 235 000 members, had given up on the facilitation process and declared a dispute on Tuesday. This means its members could start to strike in the second week of June.
He expressed frustration with the slow pace of progress.
"The PSA cannot just sit for three days [since Sunday] for nothing and pretend that the employer is responding while it is not the fact," Maleka said.
But Mugwena Maluleke of the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) and also spokesperson for all the Cosatu-affiliated unions involved, said on Tuesday that for them the facilitation process was still ongoing.
"The majority of the unions are still engaging [with members]. We believe that the right forum to negotiate is the [Public Service Coordinating Bargaining] Council. We believe labour unity is of the utmost importance in negotiations. The process was given ten days and we shall make our conclusions as a united labour," said Maluleke.
Unions want an inflation-related increase plus 4% - therefore around 7% in total. Government, on the other hand, is offering a 0% increase on the cost-of-living adjustment, pleading budgetary constraints. The success of National Treasury's fiscal consolidation plan largely depends on being able to curb the wage bill.
The PSA believes that fraud, corruption, mismanagement, and wasteful expenditure have brought the SA economy to the dire situation it is currently in - and now civil servants must pay a high price.
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