JOHANNESBURG – As jitters grip public servants over the impasse regarding their wage increases come 1 April, government has revised its 0% wage hike offers for this year.
A special meeting between labour and government held at the Public Service Bargaining Council on Wednesday saw the state tone down on its earlier proposal to renege on a 2018 wage agreement.
The parties also discussed measures to protect essential service workers in the sector during the COVID-19 crisis.
Labour said their members were unsettled about a lack of transportation arrangements and workplace safety measures among other issues during government’s 21-day lockdown.
Following the fall-out from organised labour in the public service and threats of litigation, the government now said it was committed to implementing the contested clause 3.3 of the 2018 Wage Agreement, however, not in its entirety.
Government now wants to hike salaries for employees on level one to eight by 4.4% allocating the 1.5% meant for pay progressions to the hikes.
However, this presents them with a shortfall, which they propose should be converted to capped leave and will be redeemable upon retirement.
No cost of living adjustment would be affected for levels nine to 12 according to the proposal.
This means the expected 1.5% pay progression will be suspended for a year, while the real increases for the said levels will be 3%.
Public service unions have, however, rejected the proposal outright, insisting that the wage increases be implemented as stated in the 2018 agreement.
Their expectation is that workers in salary levels one to seven receive 5.4%, salary level eight to 10 receive 4.9%, while those on 11 and 12 should receive 4.4%.
The Public Service Association has threatened to declare a dispute at the council should this not be realised, which will open the door for a legal process that could end up at the Constitutional Court.