Nehawu, nurses’ union Denosa, police and prisons union Popcru and healthcare union Hospersa received strike certificates on Tuesday to join civil servants’ union, PSA, after marathon wage talks reached an impasse the Public Service Negotiations Coordinating Council (PSCBC).
It comes after Acting Civil Service and Administration Minister Thulas Nxesi invoked Section 5 of the Civil Service Act to implement a 3% salary increase in the civil service.
This was reaffirmed last week in Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s medium-term budget, which forecast an average growth of 3.1% per year in the civil service wage bill.
Workers have been picketing outside the offices of the PSCBC offices in Centurion since Monday.
Nehawu spokesman Lwazi Nkolonzi said the union would now embark on a development plan for a possible strike from next week.
“We have received a strike certificate, but we will then embark on a process which will accumulate in an action program currently being drawn up. The joint mandate committee of Cosatu will meet with all the civil service unions in the Cosatu who received the certificate We will then embark on a program that will be guided by what the members say.
“So to say this is going to cripple government services and everything I think it’s still early days for that but we’ll see what our members say and the government’s response because we’re still adamant that the government can offer them to avoid the strike. But at present our members have received the strike certificate and we plan in this sense to embark on the process of consultation with our members to develop a program that will eventually lead us to full action, but we take it slow because we don’t just wake up and do things, we have to follow our members in every part we do.
Nkolonzi adds that the unions have gone back on their initial demands for a 10% salary increase.
“We went back to our original demands of 10% but we had told the employer in the consolation to try to protect the workers against the rate of inflation, so anything above the CPI is the starting point. and that’s where we were moving forward and the employer was not willing to budge on that.They were always arrogant, always saying they had no money and they always offered 3% and that our members are not willing to accept this Our members are always adamant that anything above the rate of inflation so they will start talking and consider it a reasonable offer from the employer but the employer is still adamant about 3%.”