JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa`s labour court on Wednesday reserved the verdict of a wage dispute in the civil service that has a major impact on the government`s efforts to end the debt increase. “As a PSA, we still think it`s a very negative matter that the minister (of the public service and administration) has proposed public officials,” he said. “In fact, payroll is really the biggest effort. The unions were also really proactive, which I appreciated. They don`t want to be the sacrificial lamb and they said there were a number of other areas where we can look at savings,” said the president. – SAnews.gov.za Implementation of the agreement requires a majority of 50% – 1. The fact that a majority of unions have signed means that the wage contract will be extended to all public officials. Mboweni also argued that the government`s commitment to reducing public sector payrolls was the key to averting a sovereign debt crisis. He said the three-year employment contract signed in 2018 did not meet the legal obligation to ensure tax accessibility and sustainability. Lawyer for the Public Services Association (PSA), Chris Orr, said the wage increases, set at just over 5 percent, would cost the state only R10 billion.
PSA chief executive Ivan Fredericks told Fin24 by phone on Friday that redirecting the strike would be an “unnecessary exercise” because the majority of unions signed the agreement, so the strike would not have a major impact. In its opposition documents, the government stated that the agreement was not valid because it had not been approved by cabinet, including anomalies. In October, Mboweni announced that the government would freeze public service salaries over the next three years to save R160 billion. “Not everyone is satisfied with everything in the resolution, but overall it is trying to meet the needs of each of the 1.3 million public servants involved in the agreement in one way or another,” he said. Discussions continued earlier this week, when the Public Services Association (PSA) called for a general wage increase of 12%.