Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is adamant that it will not engage in government’s plans to cut the public wage bill at any forum outside the collective bargaining council.
Cosatu’s General-Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali has made it clear that plans to cut the wage bill by R160 billion over three years announced in last week’s Budget Speech were not up for discussion.
He was speaking after attending a meeting of the African National Congress’ (ANC) National Working Committee at Luthuli House and a meeting between business, government and labour at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on Monday.
“If anyone wants to open up that negotiation must go to the right forum, which is the bargaining council where wages and working conditions of the public services are discussed. No other forum has legal instruments to even implement what might be agreed, so if we have to talk about it anywhere, it will just be an informal discussion but eventually, it must go back there. Trade unions are waiting for government to come back and to say you make this proposal what are you saying about it,” says Ntshalintshali.
Ntshalintshali has also accused government of acting in bad faith with regards to its plans to cut the public sector wage bill over three years. He says it will set a bad precedent for the private sector.
“There is a lot of support from the private sector saying to the government please don’t back down in dealing with those things. The private sector has not been able to do this thing. They have honoured the multi-year agreement and if they see government taking this stance, of course they may intend to do the same. Who is going to call them to account when the same government who is a custodian of promoting collective bargaining can do as it pleases,” says Ntshalintshali.
Labour organisations have already expressed their unhappiness around any mooted plans to change the three-year agreement signed with government in 2018.
In this video, Labour analyst Hassen Lorgat says cutting the wage bill will provoke societal conflict:
Co-director of the Institute for Economic Justice Neil Coleman has described government’s plan to cut the public sector wage bill as an attempt to pacify the rating agencies. #sabcnews
— Radio 2000 (@Radio2000ZA) March 3, 2020
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