August 31, 2010

Government improves pay offer in bid to end strike

South African government negotiators have improved their pay offer to civil servants in a bid to end a crippling nation-wide strike which has lasted for more than two weeks. Unions have yet to decide on the offer, but labour leaders signalled in interviews that they were in favour of their members accepting it.

A government statement said that, acting on a directive from President Jacob Zuma, negotiators had returned to talks with public service unions and negotiated a "draft settlement offer" of a 7.5 percent pay increase and a monthly housing allowance of R800 (U.S. $110). The government's previous offer was a seven percent pay rise and a R700 housing allowance. Unions have been demanding 8.6 percent pay increases and a housing allowance of R1,000.

"The public service unions have requested more time for consultation on the draft settlement offer with their members," the government statement said.
Sdumo Dlamini, President of Cosatu, says accepting the new wage offer is up to the people. “It is for the members to consider the offer, whether it is acceptable or not, obviously we are there to provide guidance and leadership,” he said. “A massive strike like this, has many repercussions on members in particular, so we had to factor into the resolution a peace clause, where in we don’t want to see any revenge or victimisation. At this stage, the sympathy strike on Thursday is on hold. It all depends on our mandate from members“, Dlamini said and added that the decision on the new wage offer would be made public on 1st of September. “The new offer is being taken to members for a democratic process of consultation.“

But the country’s largest union of state employees, the teachers' union SADTU, has said its members were likely to reject the revised government wage offer. "The general view is that the offer is being rejected and it is going to be difficult to push teachers," Thobile Ntola, SADTU's president, said.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union or NEHAWU further noted that it has taken government's latest public sector wage offer to its members, indicating it is "encouraged". Nehawu said the union understood the need for a speedy resolution of the ongoing strike and had resolved to set a deadline of two days for consultation processes. (Business Day)

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