Parliament’s Salary Increases: PSA Condemns Government’s Double Standards

Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu. PHOTO: GCIS

THE Public Servants Association (PSA), which represents more than 235 000 civil servants including teachers and health workers, has accused government of double-standards after members of Parliament were offered a 2.8%-salary increase on earnings of more than a R1 million per annum whilst public servants are offered an “increase” of 1.5%.

The PSA’s spokesperson Reuben Maleka said in a statement that rather than acknowledging that ordinary public servants are no longer able to make ends meet, government finds it justifiable to grant an increase of 2,8% to Parliamentarians already earning more than R1 million per annum.

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“By “offering” public servants their own 1.5%-pay progression allocation as a salary increase, they are forfeiting that 1.5%. This means, in fact, means that they will not receive a salary adjustment and must look forward to a taxable R978 per month for only 12 months,” said Maleka.  

“Even more appallingly, public servants are being sold the offer as if they have no other option as they are told that there are no funds. Funds could, however, be found for increases for members of Parliament who are not at the coal face when the public is being serviced, despite dangers to personal health and safety.”

Last month, the PSA said that negotiations with government had broken down and it filed a formal dispute at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) on 11 May.

A conciliation hearing was held on Thursday, but if no agreement is reached within 30 days, the union can apply to strike. 

Government and unions in the public service have been locked in wage discussions for the past few months, with little sign that they are getting any closer to a resolution.

These talks are to arrive at agreed wages for public servants including nurses, teachers and police officers.

In May, Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu slammed the PSA and accused the union of grandstanding and posturing.

The minister’s statements followed a claim by the trade union that it was excluded from the public wage negotiations which were continuing under facilitation after a deadlock.

Mchunu said that the PSA had been undermining the collective bargaining process under way by making allegations that it was excluded from the facilitation process.

As part of the conciliation process with the PSA, government raised a technical objection concerning jurisdiction, and it also argued that the PSA’s dispute was “premature” – as most of the other unions are still in negotiations.

“The PSA has warned the employer that by frustrating the process, employees are losing patience. The PSA will comply with the [Labour Relations Act] and kick start its strike balloting in view of the lapse of 30 days by 11 June 2021. Government should take responsibility for the country’s financial crisis and refrain from making public servants the scapegoat in this process,” the union said.

The PSA said public service negotiations and the future of collective bargaining were under attack as government and “friendly unions” were prepared to exclude the PSA from negotiations.

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