JOHANNESBURG – Public service workers woke up to their regular salary payments on Wednesday morning with government now in direct contravention of a 2018 agreement to increase wages.
Treasury has cut back on the public sector wage bill with a plan to save R160 billion in three years as one of the structural reforms to keep the struggling economy afloat.
However, the state was yet to find favour from worker’s representatives over this approach. The non-implementation of the salary increases sent shockwaves throughout the public service with workers’ hopes that government would change its approach dashed.
According to the 2018 wage agreement that expires this year, workers in salary levels 1 to 7 were meant to receive 5.4% in increases, salary level 8 to 10 4.9%, while those on 11 and 12 should have received 4.4%.
The Public Servants Association (PSA), which has over 230,000 members in the sector, said they were preparing to launch a court application against government over its reneging from the agreement.
A recent special meeting between labour and government held at the Public Service Bargaining Council failed to resolve the impasse.
Government negotiators had proposed that part of the 2018 wage agreement be implemented. They suggested salaries for workers on level 1 to 8 be hiked by 4.4%, allocating the 1.5% meant for pay progressions to the hikes with the shortfall converted to capped leave, which would be redeemable upon retirement.