COSATU unions in the public sector have signed the Public Service Co-coordinating Bargain Council (PSCBC) 2018/2021 wage deal following almost ten months of protracted negotiations. The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU), National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU), Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), Public and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (PAWUSA) and South African Medical Association (SAMA) have all appended their signatures to the three year agreement.
The wage deal involve an average nominal increase of 2, 2% above inflation for all public servants. However, the unity of the working class in the public sector has been dealt a serious blow due the bad blood between COSATU unions on the one side the Public Servants Union (PSA) and SAFTU unions on the other side. Mudslinging between the differently aligned unions has left a bitter taste in the relationship as PSA, NUPSAW and SAFTU – affiliated public sector unions have rejected the agreement and did not append their signatures. The Public Servants Association (PSA) called off its “day of rage” strike planned for 11 June.
The association says it is disappointed that several unions have struck a wage deal with the government. “We were on a verge of making sure that we take the government to task. The government is built with the unions who signed today, we are extremely disappointed because there was no reason for these unions to sign,” said Tahir Maepa, PSA deputy general manager.
The COSATU affiliated unions is of the opinion that the “PSA miscalculated and prematurely broke ranks from the rest of the collective because they are a social media union and not a genuine union.” PSA’s intended strike is now declared as illegal due to the majority (51%) now having signed the agreement.
The agreement is constituted by new inclusions such as Abolishing of salary levels 1-3; and delinking of housing allowance The wage deal will effectively result in a 7% increase for junior employees ( level 1-7); a 6,5% increase for mid-level employees (level 8-10) and a 6, 5% increase for senior officials (11-12). Government has also agreed to improve the medical assistance for employees on salary levels 1-5 who are currently receiving a 100% subsidy on GEMS Sapphire option. The COSATU public sector unions have indicated that an estimated 400 000 public servants who were excluded from the housing allowance will benefit over the next three years.
Some NEHAWU members in the Northern Cape have also expressed their dismay at their union accepting the offer. They claim they were not consulted prior to the signing of the agreement and indicated that they felt betrayed.