Johannesburg – The Public Servants Association (PSA) is demanding more than the government’s improved offer of a 7% wage hike.
The PSA, which represents more than 235 000 public servants, on Wednesday said it remains resolute “on its mandated demand for a 10% increas.
Although PSA is not taking part in the strike to press for higher wages, the union said it was “demanding a much-improved offer on the 7%-salary increase that is currently proposed by the employer”.
The PSA said the government’s offer does not consider the escalating cost of living and does not meet the needs of public servants.
The PSA said it was further disappointed that while it was engaging to secure a decent increase for its members who are about to lose a cash gratuity in April 2023, other unions “were not only disrupting negotiations but are also intimidating” its members.
In a related development, striking members of the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) had been ordered to return to work on Tuesday after the Labour Appeal Court interdicted the union from continuing its strike.
NEHAWU members have been accused of violence and intimidation, especially at public hospitals, where at least four deaths have been linked to the strike that began last week on Monday.
“The violence, disrespect, and thuggery being experienced have no space in a democratic dispensation as the rights of everyone must be respected,” said the PSA.
The PSA said it led the way in November 2022 when the union embarked on industrial action without attacking or violating anyone.
“The behaviour demonstrated by some unions cannot be tolerated and the PSA thus welcomes the court interdict against violent attacks on its members disguised as a strike.”
The PSA said it cannot allow any further delay in negotiations.
The union called on the government to table an improved offer for consideration by the union members and not to allow disruptions at the expense of all public servants.
Commenting on the strike, NEHAWU said Wednesday that it was “now announcing the suspension of the public service strike”.
NEHAWU added: “We call on all our members and workers at the picket lines to prepare for orderly return back to work in line with the report back given directly at picket lines this morning.”
The union said in the wake of the strike, the government has now appreciated the urgency of engagement on the draft framework on the MSLA through the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) processes within a six months period.
NEHAWU said the conclusion of the agreement will ensure a proper balance in adherence to the constitution’s provision on the right to strike and the mandatory requirements regarding the designated essential services.
“To this effect, a PSCBC Special Council on wage negotiations is convened today at 15:00 to process the settlement agreement together with salary adjustment for the financial year 2023/24,” said NEHAWU earlier Wednesday.