South Africa: Trade Union Divisions Keep the Merry-Go-Round Revolving Over Public Sector Salary Talks

analysis

In one corner, there is the Public Servants' Association, which has threatened industrial action over the government's decision not to offer SA's public servants inflation-beating salary increases. Then there are the Cosatu-linked trade unions, which still want to negotiate with the government.

A merry-go-round.

That's what the government and trade unions have been on for more than a year in their negotiations over salary increases for 1.3 million public servants.

Since February 2020, the Department of Public Service and Administration and National Treasury have repeated their proposal for a three-year salary freeze for public servants to cut government spending by R300-billion and bring growing government debt under control.

Major trade unions, including the Public Servants' Association (PSA), and others affiliated with Cosatu and Fedusa, have rejected the government's salary freeze proposal. They want a salary increase of consumer price inflation plus 4% in 2021 - effectively 8.2% (the SA Reserve Bank expects inflation to average 4.2% in 2021) - for their members, who include nurses, doctors, police officers and teachers.

Trade unions have, without any success, attempted to convince the government to reconsider its salary freeze position. Instead, the government has only sweetened its offer...

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