Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


Government’s 7.5% offer ‘a mischievously misleading deal’

Nehawu said government was effectively giving workers 2.8% in new money, which was worse than last year’s 3%.


Government’s 7.5% salary increase offer is spitting in the faces of public sector workers, with the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) saying it’s far below the Consumer Price Index and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) calling it a “mischievously misleading deal”.

Despite unions representing more than 53% of the public service’s over 1.2 million workers accepting the offer and claiming it as victory, labour analyst Mamokgethi Molopyane said 7.5% was nowhere near a victory compared to their list of demands.

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“It’s not a win, but it’s an agreeable offer. There are many concessions that had to be made regarding some of the issues they raised,” Molopyane said.

“But because government has high expenditure, there was no way they would have received a higher offer than what is tabled.”

Govt’s offer misleading

Nehawu national spokesperson Lwazi Nkolonzi said government was effectively giving workers 2.8% in new money, which was worse than last year’s 3%.

“As a union, our mandate was to fight the 2022-23 dispute, which culminated in us embarking on a public service strike,” Nkolozi said.

“On 14 March, a settlement agreement was reached and the strike was suspended. The settlement agreement was that there would be an augmentation on the 3% that government had unilaterally implemented. But a few days later the government reneged on that agreement.”

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Nkolozi said government was misleading workers with its offer, “due to the fact that government is taking the gratuity money that workers have been getting into the salary baseline, it’s not new money. The only new money is 2.8% . The offer is putting workers in a far worse position,” he added.

‘Government tabling 3% as a new offer’

Saftu national spokesperson Trevor Shaku said it was important for workers to understand the intricacies “to unmask the misleading presentation of this offer to the public servants”.

“In this wage offer for 2023/24, the government is tabling a 3% as a new offer. The 4.5% is merely a carry-over of the cash gratuity paid to workers since 2021,” he explained.

“The only difference now is that it is being translated from a non-pensionable cash-gratuity into a pensionable salary on the baseline.

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“In the past, we have argued that workers must reject the cash-gratuity primarily because it was stalling the wage increases for a multi-term period, and it was inflicting losses on the pensions of workers.”

The Public Servants Association’s Reuben Maleka said they have opted to participate in the wage negotiations to mitigate the risk of public servants not receiving an increase in the 2023/24-financial year.

“In addition, public servants could be further negatively impacted if the cash gratuity ended without another agreement in place,” he said.

– reitumetsem@citizen.co.za