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SALARY NEGOTIATIONS COMMENCE

On 30 September 2014 Labour tabled its salary demands for 2015/16. The demands are the following:

Salaries
An across the board increase of 15 % with effect (w.e.f.) from 1 April 2015

Housing Allowance
- An increase in the Housing Allowance from the current R 900 p.m. to R 3 000 p.m.
- An annual adjustment (on 1 April) equal to the annual salary adjustment

Medical Subsidy
- An increase of 28, 5% in the medical subsidy, w.e.f 1 January 2015, for GEMS and open scheme members (to inter alia compensate for lack of increases in 2012/2013/2014)
- The equalisation of subsidies in respect of open medical schemes (i.e. subsidies for GEMS and open schemes to be the same)
- The annual adjustment of the subsidy based on the average medical inflation of the previous year.

Leave
- Family responsibility leave to be broadened to include assistance to immediate family and parents-in-law
- 6 (Six) months paid maternity leave
- 2 (Two) weeks paid paternity leave outside of family responsibility leave
- 10 (ten) days special leave for employees with children with special needs

Other Demands
- Levels 1 to 3 must be compressed so that level 4 becomes an entry level into the Public Service
- The State must develop a bursary scheme for Public Service employees’ children
- With effect from 1 January 2016, serving employees must be allowed to exercise a once-off choice of the month in which they wish their 13th cheque to be paid (new employees to exercise the same choice upon appointment)

The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
The Employer’s response to the demands is awaited.
A number of matters are still outstanding from previous collective agreements. Labour and the Employer agreed to negotiate these matters in a process parallel to the salary demands. The majority of these issues do not impact on educators, e.g. review of the PMDS, review of the Resolution dealing with employees not covered by OSDs, the impact of outsourcing in the public service, a Minimum Service Level Agreement (to allow certain employees in essential services who may not strike to participate in strike action – education is not a designated essential service).

Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS)

One of the outstanding areas that do affect educators, however, is the envisaged Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS).

- The Employer’s proposals on the scheme (NB: At this stage it is only proposals) were tabled in the PSCBC on 7 October 2014. In short it entails the following:
- Employees will be required to enrol with the GEHS to benefit from services offered through the Scheme (e.g. facilitating financial rehabilitation, improving access to housing finance, facilitating housing stock to buy /rent)
- A proposed increase in the housing allowance w.e.f. 1 July 2015, which for the majority of educators who qualify will be insignificant (salary 1&2 proposed to increase to R 1200 p.m., levels 3&4 to R 1050 p.m. and levels 5-10 to R 970 p.m.)
- The housing allowance to be annually increased with the average CPI of the preceding financial year
- The housing allowance will be paid for a maximum of 20 years during employment in the public service ( this is in line with the normal bond repayment period), but for levels 1-4  the allowance will only be available up to 31 March 2025 (i.e. for 10 years)
- Employees who receive the housing allowance, but whose houses have been fully paid off will forfeit the allowance on 1 April 2017
- Employees who pay off their bonds after 31 March 2017 will continue to receive the housing allowance for a maximum of two years from the date that the bond is paid off
- Employees who own and reside in houses on communal land (those who receive the housing allowance), but whose houses have been fully paid off will continue to receive the housing allowance until 31 March 2030
- Employees who rent will only receive half of the housing subsidy they qualify for, whilst the other half will be deposited in  an interest-bearing and tax-efficient individual saving facility administered by the GEHS – to be used for the sole purpose of acquiring home-ownership

- If after 10 years the employee has not utilised the funds in the saving facility to acquire home-ownership or when the employee’s services are terminated, the savings will be forfeited.
- Only in the case of the death of an employee (presumably before the 10 year cut-off date is reached) will the money in the savings facility be paid out - to the estate and/or the nominated beneficiaries of the deceased

Negotiations proper on the matter have not commenced – only questions of clarity from Labour have thus far been dealt with.

As the negotiations continue further reports will be placed on the webpage.