The COSATU unions and the Independent Labour Caucus (ILC), representing 14 unions and approximately 1.3 million employees of the State in the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) began negotiations with the employer on the 16th of February 2012. Labour presented its initial demand of a 10 percent wage increase, R1650 housing allowance and a single term agreement among others.
The Employer came back to the PSCBC a month later, on the 16 March 2012 and presented a 4 percent wage increase, no increase with regard to the housing allowance and a multi term agreement.
The negotiations process hit a stumbling block on the 22nd of May 2012 when both parties reached a deadlock in the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council.
At the time the employer had presented an offer of 5.9 percent which was 1.9 percent less than the CPI, while labour was demanding a wage increase of 8.7 percent.
Other points of contention included a demand by labour for a R1500 housing allowance. The employer is now offering R900 (increase from R800 per month) with a condition that the adjustment be in effect for six months only. A third issue was over the employers` insistence to impose a multi-term agreement of three years, despite labour`s staunch opposition to this condition. The parties representing workers demanded a single term agreement.
A process of facilitation that meant to bring the parties closer began on the 25th of May. Subsequently three facilitation sessions were held and on the last one, the employer tabled an improved offer of 6.5 percent and labour followed suit by bringing its demand down to 8 percent. However the same differences over housing allowance and the term of the agreement remained.
The R900 on housing allowance as an offer fails to address the realities faced by the public service workers as compared to their counter parts in similar positions. The linking of the current offer to the proposed GEHS (Government Employee Housing Scheme) is rejected and labour demands that the employer put a revised offer that will address the economic hardships faced by the workers. Labour is not prepared to sacrifice the housing allowance as a condition of service.
The 6.5% revised offer as a result of the facilitation process fails to take into account the devastating effects of the increasing inflation on the workers` wages. Labour demands a revised offer not later than Wednesday, 6 June 2012 that takes into account the cost of living faced by the public workers who have to render quality public service to our people. Labour is available for 24 hours a day to negotiate on all the issues on the table.