We have been taken from pillar to post by the government since the onset of the salary negotiations process in April, but that’s expected. Government has no conscience given a chance they will have us working for nothing, they will suffocate us. But we have endured this journey through the years and we will prevail. This is is our time.

NUPSAW and other unions tabled their initial demands to the employer:

i. 11% Salary Increase
ii. R1,650 Housing-Allowance
iii. The equalisation of medical-aid subsidy for all ( for GEMS/GEPF members and pensioners)
iv. Finalization of the outstanding matters of Resolution 1 of 2007 and Resolution 5 of 2009 v. Implementation date as of 1 April for the above

The government requested indulgence to consult with their mandatory committee. An excuse to stall the negotiations process, nevertheless the unions agreed. The government returned with an offer of 5.2% Salary Increase, null Housing-Allowance. NUPSAW and other unions rejected the offer. NUPSAW and the government went back to the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), where government revised its offer to 5.3%, and indicated their willingness to engage us more on Housing-Allowance, whilst disregarding two other demands as tabled by the unions. Negotiations were postponed to after the World Cup.

The unions revised their demands and reinstated the other demands.

On July 23, NUPSAW issued the government with a 7-days notice for industrial action and called for members to begin picketing on lunch hour.

NUPSAW officially began the strike on August 05th, this was followed with two massive marches on August 12, in Pretoria and Cape Town where the march was led by NUPSAW’s General Secretary Success Mataitsane and President Ezra Mfigwana.

Governments offer to date!

Salary Increase Housing-Allowance NUPSAW Response Date
5.20%NullRejected the offer08 May 20105.30%R 620.00Rejected the offer20 May 20106.50%R 630.00Rejected the offer5 August 20107.00%R 700.00Rejected the offer17 August 2010

The ruling party’s own founding document promises to build free houses for thousands of families, they continuously reiterate this during the elections and recant this after being elected. Most public servants cannot meet the minimum required to qualify for a home-loan; which is between R8000 – R10,000 net salary plus other factors considered such as, creditworthiness, debts and disposable income. But the aggravating factor is the fact that government employees are automatically disqualified from owning an RDP (Reconstruction and Development Program) house.

The R1000 Housing-Allowance, demand is not enough but a right step in the right direction; to improving home-ownership.

NUPSAW also calls for the government to equalize medical-aid subsidy. Currently, government employees who subscribe to GEMS ( Government Employees Medical Scheme), receive R2, 700 maximum monthly subsidies. This amount is more than double for members in other medical-aid schemes. Now, these are some of the discrepancies that government would want unions to overlook.

Public servants have down tools. The employer responded by sending out the police to intimidate and disrupt our peaceful marches and gatherings. Despite the fact that this is ‘Women’s Month’ we have witnessed horrific scenes where our police harassed and handled our women in a manner that is totally uncalled for. But that was not enough the Minister of DPSA on Saturday approached Labour Court for an interdict to prohibit the public servants performing ‘essential services’ from participating in the current strike. This is now a full-blown strike and its impact it is felt by the government in the entire country.

NUPSAW on Monday issued a statement for a quo animo to challenge the government’s interdict based on the fact that the ‘essential services’ issue actually forms part of the outstanding matters that need to be finalized as per the Resolution 1 of 2007. And, that cannot be used by the government to force unions to halt the strike. Since it was the government that failed to conclude the minimum service agreement.

The strike will intensify and continue until the government gives in to our demands. We will wait for them to finish playing ‘moonlighting’; by volunteering in our hospitals and using funds to buy airtime to deceive the public.

If the government can spend R110-million on World Cup tickets, they can and must afford to give us a minimum salary increase of 8.6% and R1000 Housing-Allowance.

Compiled by:
Communications and Media Liaison Officer
Nomthandazo Mahlangu