The government has offered civil servants a 1.5% salary increase plus a cash payment in wage negotiations with trade unions, Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu said on Monday.
Unions previously said the negotiations had reached a deadlock after the government initially offered no increase.
The government is trying to contain its wage bill, which accounts for around a third of consolidated spending, to rein in a steep rise in debt that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The offer is 1.5% which is pensionable and is on the baseline,” Mchunu told a news conference. “Secondly, there is a cash gratuity which ranges from R1,220 R1,695.”
The unions had yet to respond to the offer. Mchunu said the government and unions would meet to discuss it on Tuesday.
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Angered by the government’s initial refusal to raise wages, one of the biggest public sector unions, the Public Servants Association (PSA), has balloted its members about a potential strike.
At the start of the negotiations in March, unions demanded a wage increase of inflation plus 4% in the 2021/22 fiscal year, as well as better housing payments and a risk allowance because of COVID-19.
Annual inflation was 5.2% in May.
Restraining rising wages is one of the key pillars of the National Treasury’s fiscal consolidation strategy. Last year the government won a court case over wage increases that it refused to pay.
The PSA has challenged that ruling in a higher court.
Public servants wage negotiations under threat