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Govt urges trade unions to accept tabled offer

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Trade unions representing public servants at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) are being urged to accept the current wage offer tabled by the government so that government can focus on addressing another pressing matter of employing more front-line workers.

Public Service and Administration Acting Minister, Mr Thulas Nxesi said this while addressing delegates at the 104th national elective conference of the National Teachers Union (NATU).

As the public service wage negotiations continue at the PSCBC, Minister Nxesi said: “the current wage offer takes place under a difficult financial situation and when the rate of unemployment in the country is high. The government is urging that the offer should be accepted so that the state can focus on addressing the pressing matters related to the employment of front-line workers such as the Police, Nurses and Teachers.”

A week ago at the PSCBC, an offer was tabled by the government for trade unions to consider after seeking a mandate from their respective members.

The highlights of the agreement include to provide for an agreement on the payment of a salary adjustment for public servants employed in the public service for the financial year, April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023;

  • Government will continue to pay all public servants employed on or after April 1, 2022, a monthly non-pensionable cash allowance until March 31, 2023;
  • Government will pay a 3 % pensionable salary adjustment to all employees on salary levels 1-12 employed in the public service on or before April 1, 2022;
  • The pensionable salary adjustment shall be back-dated to April 1, 2022, with immediate effect once the tabled offer enjoys a majority.

The 2022/23 public service salary negotiations commenced at the PSCBC with the process of pre-negotiations for purposes of sharing information on the government’s economic outlook with Labour before tabling their demands.

According to Minister Nxesi the purpose of the pre-negotiations process was to address the long-standing misalignment between the Government’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).

He further said that another purpose was for organised labour’s mandate-seeking processes, in that trade unions within the public service negotiating at the PSCBC usually present their demands after the state has concluded its planning cycle.

“This misalignment is usually a source of tensions and mistrust that arise right at the beginning of the negotiations process and resulting in the process over-lapping into the next planning cycle, thus making it difficult for the government to incorporate labour’s demands into its spending plans for new proposals.

“In order to address this element of mistrust between labour and the employer as well as the misalignment between the government’s planning cycle and labour’s mandate-seeking processes,” he said.

The Minister said that the government, therefore, proposed the following measures:

  • On the Trust Deficit – The government adopted a frank, yet robust approach that demonstrated our quest to reduce the level of mistrust between the parties. This was done through a full disclosure of the difficult economic situation the Government finds itself in an inviting joint problem-solving proposals from Labour. The recent Public Service Summit was a starting block that we should build on to address this trust deficit.
  • On the re-alignment of processes – A negotiations time-table was adopted in an attempt to guide the processes such that we are able to conclude the 2022/23 round of negotiations by June and immediately start with the new round for the financial year 2023/24 and conclude before the Minister of finance tables the budget in Parliament.
  • On the current offer – Under the current difficult financial position and the rate of unemployment in the country, the employer argued that the offer should be accepted so that the state can focus on addressing the pressing matters related to the employment of front-line workers such as the Police, Nurses and Teachers.