Govt sticks to 6% salary increase


By Themba Gadebe

The government has stuck to the six percent salary increase for the public sector during the wage negotiations as a result of urgent priority areas.

"Government has taken account of all spending priorities including social development, addressing crime issues, infrastructure investment and better service delivery for the communities in the pursuit of a better life for all,' said the Minister for Public Service and Administration, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.

She was speaking a day after the wage negotiations between labour and government reached a deadlock.

The labour has since maintained its initial demand of 12 percent increase while government had moved from its original offer of 5.3 to six percent.

"Despite the efforts from the state as an employer to revise the offer, the public sector unions are still adamant on their list of demands.

"Note needs to be taken that these (labour?s) demands amount to approximately R198 billion a year, which doubles the current wage bill,' the minister said.

This, she said, was unaffordable, impractical and compromised other commitments of government.

Minister Fraser-Moleketi expressed her disappointment at the labour?s "unwillingness to move from its original position' saying any negotiation was determined by the willingness of both parties to move in the spirit of collective bargaining.

"Regrettably, labour has been unwilling to move on any of the demands that they have tabled and have therefore compromised the collective bargaining process,' she said.

Fraser-Moleketi however said government was encouraging the negotiations process to take place until a settlement was reached.

"Government would like to reiterate that we are committed to the negotiations process and that a settlement needs to be found in the bargaining council,' she said.

She added that it was in the interest of all of stakeholders to continue negotiations, saying there was no need for an industrial action.

"There is a need that we handle this in a manner that is beneficial to the country,' the minister explained.

Furthermore, the minister assured that the principles underpinning the state?s offer to public servants include general salary increases that keep pace with inflation so that the buying power of public servants is not compromised.

This includes additional increases that are linked to performance and service delivery.

The minister also indicated the attraction and retention of skills in the public service through the introduction of occupation specific dispensation; and growing the capacity of the state through job creation.

The occupation specific dispensation focuses on fields such as the health and teaching professions.

It allows these professionals to receive adequate salary progression while remaining in the production levels instead of aspiring to move into supervisory or management posts.