Cosatu says it will exhaust all options during wage talks before resorting to strike action

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The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it will exhaust all processes to resolve the wage deadlock between workers and the government before embarking on strike action.

On Thursday, all parties will go back to the public service coordinating bargaining council.

Government’s current offer is 2%. However, unions have rejected the offer, saying they want a 6.5% increase.

Cosatu’s First Deputy President, Mike Shingange, says, “Therefore, we are going to follow the dispute resolution mechanism. It is only after that that our members would obviously have given the indication as to what to do and the strike can be entertained. We are still hopeful that either the employer will improve the offer, or the process of dispute resolution mechanism can unlock this deadlock that we have currently with the employer.”

Unions open to negotiations at 3% 

The Public Servants Association (PSA) has said it is still open to negotiating further on the current wage stalemate if the government is willing to start with a 3% baseline increase.

The public sector unions confirmed that it is conducting a strike ballot among its members this week on whether to commence with its first full-blown strike in over a decade.

PSA spokesperson Claude Naicker says, “Majority of unions in the state indicated that ‘listen, we are able to talk, we are able to negotiate if you start at least with a 3% baseline increase’, and they indicated that this can only be achieved with cost-saving measure.”

“So,, the next meeting is coming up this week and we hope that they come up with a better offer than 2%. If they do come up with 3% we still have to take it to our members and members must decide if 3% is a better alternative,” Naicker says.

In June, the PSA said government needed to value the role of public-sector employees in rebuilding the economy and restoring dignity to the public service.

The association said public servants were demoralised and unable to produce their best work amidst negative pressures, including being denied fairly negotiated wage increases, being overworked, and overburdened by vacancies that are not filled.

President of the Public Servants’ Association (PSA), Dr Lufuno Mulaudzi, elaborates in the interview below: