The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) says it has vowed to fight “until the bitter end” to get public servants their salary increases.
This comes after Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu told a media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday the government stood firm on its offer of 0% wage increases in the 2021-22 financial year.
Mchunu said the government was committed to collective bargaining. However, the latest wage negotiations between the government and organised labour have proven difficult, with the talks expected to continue on Friday.
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Nehawu said it was convinced “a war is unavoidable between organised labour and the government” after listening to Mchunu’s briefing.
The union said it was “perplexed” about Mchunu choosing to discuss matters in public on the eve of the bargaining council sitting.
“While the minister insisted we should allow the council to deliberate on and conclude the ongoing salary negotiations, that did not stop him from using the media to negotiate and try to guilt-trip labour into reversing the gains of workers,” Nehawu said in a statement.
Nehawu said it believed this was “part of the broader agenda of undermining collective bargaining”.
“The erosion of the principle of collective bargaining must be ferociously defended as the end result will be workers returning to slave-like working conditions,” Nehawu said.
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The union further said it was clear the government would still offer a 0% salary increase during Friday’s negotiations.
“This leaves us with no option but to seek a strike certificate while preparing for a full blown strike.”
Workers in the public sector have been threatening to go on a national strike if the government failed to meet their demands for a consumer price inflation increase plus 4%.
In the October 2020 medium-term budget policy statement Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced the government sought a wage freeze over the next three years for the public sector in an attempt to cut government expenditure by R300 billion.