President Cyril Ramaphosa’s silence on the public sector wage dispute while addressing members of NEDLAC is a missed opportunity to prove the government realise the plight of workers.
The president delivered the keynote address at the Annual NEDLAC Organised Labour School convened under the theme “Economic Recovery, Collective Bargaining and Labour Law Reform”, this morning. However, he did not in the slightest, refer to the ongoing labour dispute or the importance of protecting collective bargaining.
“The magnitude and importance of the matter are of great concern to all workers in South Africa as it undermines the integrity of collective bargaining,” says Adv. Ben van der Walt, the general secretary of SAPTU (South African Parastatals and Tertiary Institutions Union). “The matter has now been taken to the Constitutional Court by all unions concerned to ensure the state does not get out of a collective agreement without any consequences.”
The Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) and the government agreed to the three-year wage agreement in June 2018. The state complied with the first two years of the deal and only raised questions on its lawfulness in the final year.
“The president, in his address, leans heavily on the unions to encourage members to support the vaccination drive and to ensure workplaces are healthy and safe. However, he does not respect these unions enough to honour a signed wage agreement,” says Adv. Van der Walt. “Each time he convenes the nation, he speaks about new plans to reconstruct and recover the economy. Today, again, he talked about plans to eradicate poverty and create more jobs. The government should rather focus on paying the workers already in its service what it agreed to.”
Issued by: SAPTU
Date: 1 February 2021
Enquiries: Adv Ben van der Walt, General Secretary SAPTU Email: email@example.com