Public Service and Administration, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo has distanced herself from claims made by trade union-Public Servants Association (PSA) that it “vigorously pursued” salary increases for Senior Management Members (SMS) to be implemented.
Unlike public servants who are on levels 1 – 12, the Minister determines the salary increases for SMS members, levels 13 – 16, for the Public Service and Administration in consultation with the Minister of Finance.
“As it has been standard practice, the State as the employer firstly concludes wage negotiations with labour unions at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) for public servants on levels 1 – 12.
“Thereafter, the Minister for the Public Service and Administration makes a determination on the salary increases of SMS members in liaison with the Minister of Finance.
“It is worth emphasising that labour unions do not negotiate salary increases for SMS members.
“What should also be taken into consideration is that SMS members have not received Cost-of-Living Adjustment for few years and this would have a negative impact on their pensions. The current Cost-of-Living adjustment also entails contribution to pension of employees.
“What the labour unions are entitled to do on behalf of their members, and rightfully so, is to regularly make enquiries with the Minister for the Public Service and Administration on the progress relating to salary increases of SMS members.
“As an open and transparent government, feedback is provided to the labour unions up to until a determination has been made,” said Minister Dlodlo.
However, this engagement is not tantamount to “vigorously pursuing” salary increases of SMS members to be implemented as it is alleged by the PSA.
In the interest of promoting harmonious relationship with the labour unions, the Minister said it is imperative that government responds to unions’ enquiries whenever such arises, but this does not constitute negotiations.
As such, she said there is no way salary adjustment of SMS members can be “vigorously pursued” as the Minister of Public Service and Administration is empowered by the Public Service Act and relevant prescripts to make such a determination.
The salary increases for SMS is determined within the broader scope of the public service wage bill which as government; have stated that it is growing to unsustainable levels.
According to the Minister, the wage bill is driven by a number of factors including the previous above-inflation salary increases and the increase in the proportion of public servants moving into higher ranks.
“As government, the decision on salary increases for all public servants is made against the poor economic growth, which has continued to exert significant pressures on public finances. Compensation of employees is one of the fastest growing items of spending in budgets at both provincial and national spheres of government.
“Over the recent past, this compromised composition of expenditure. Considering the imperative to improve service delivery effectiveness, there is a need to contain growth in compensation spending and to redirect funds to key areas of service delivery.
“Specific strategies and interventions are being implemented to manage compensation budgets in relation to other areas of spending. Overall, the objective should be to manage the cost of employment and cost of delivery of services while ensuring that the wage bill is commensurate with affordability considerations over time.
“The dwindling fiscus has necessitated that government reviews how it can operate with the bare resources at its disposal. At all the times, government has to strike a balance between the needs of the public servants on the one hand and the broader socio-economic challenges facing the State,” she said.
Minister Dlodlo said trade unions are an important constituency in addressing the wage bill challenge. In appropriate forums, government constantly engages with labour unions on issues such as economic realities and financial pressures experienced by the country.
She said the purpose is to jointly look at tangible measures to remain within the budgetary ceiling without negatively impacting on job security, as well as ensuring continuous efficient and effective functionality of departments within the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and beyond.
“It is critical that government and trade unions work together for a productive and stable public service, as this will enable government to deliver efficient services to the people.
“Without dedicated and professional public servants, service delivery will be impacted in a negative way. There is absolutely no need to claim small victories that are actually non-existent,” she said.