The 2022/23 wage negotiations were the longest on record in the PSCBC, and by October parties had still not found each other.
The point of contention has been, for one of the unions, the cash gratuity that will be coming to an end at the end of March 2023. NAPTOSA supports the conversion of the gratuity into a pensionable increase. This will benefit members in the long run. This can however only be negotiated with the next round of negotiations since all parties agreed to a one-year agreement. The next round starts NOW so that we can influence the budget.
Some unions threatened to go on strike, others remained silent, and others attempted to exploit the unhappiness of members without themselves providing solutions or even nailing their colours to the wall. To date, none of the unions has followed through with their threats. Teachers cannot be used as cannon fodder when it comes to strike action. Some unions were bargaining on the teachers to interrupt the NSC exams. When this did not happen, their threats were used as social media tactics to lure members. Fortunately, members are far more discerning than what these predators bargained for.
On October 18th the Ministers of Finance and Employment informed FEDUSA of the intention to invoke Section 5 (5)(b) of the Public Service Act which empowers the Minister to implement the final offer as it provides that: “Notwithstanding subsection (4), but subject to the Labour Relations Act- (b) the last offer made by the State as employer in a bargaining council referred to in the said subsection (4) on a specific matter may, if a deadlock in negotiations is reached, be implemented by acting in terms of the provisions of this Act or any other law, provided any such act does not have the effect of reducing existing remuneration or other service benefits, except in accordance with section 34.”
In a letter addressed to Public Service Unions the Minister of Employment and Labour stated that “the action was not contemplated lightly. The matter we (The Public Service) are seized with required urgent action from all parties to bring to finality, to significantly reduce the uncertainties regarding both the fiscal outlook and to ensure the stability of the public service.”
The PSCBC convened a special council meeting October 19th where the employer referred to the letter from the minister of finance. Wherein the minister indicated that because the PSCBC had not concluded negotiations, that it would be difficult to accommodate an increment for the public service sector in the 2022 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS). The employer thus confirmed that notwithstanding the dissatisfaction of some in labour, that the agreement would indeed be implemented.
- The agreement consists of:
- the R1 000 (after tax) gratuity,
- 3% Cost of Living Adjustment (back dated to April 2022),
- 1.5% pay progression (back dated to July 2022) (This is a standing agreement NOT part of the negotiations).
NAPTOSA, SAOU and SADTU confirmed their position of accepting the offer and wished to sign the agreement to benefit their members. Additionally, the delaying tactics punctuated by threats with no action and a deathly silence from others are robbing us of impacting the budget of 2023.
NAPTOSA is hopeful that the 2023/24 negotiations that will be commencing soon, won’t be as drawn out a process as the past one.