South African civil servants set to strike after rejecting wage offer

Striking public servants

 One of South Africa's largest public sector unions on Monday gave notice of its intention to strike after rejecting a 3% wage offer from the government.

The Public Servants Association (PSA), which says it has more than 235,000 members, could embark on a national strike from Wednesday next week, potentially affecting service delivery across government departments.

It would be the first major strike in the public sector since 2010. Salary negotiations began in May, with unions initially demanding a 10% increase, but this was later revised down to 6.5%.

The government had hoped to conclude wage negotiations ahead of its mid-term budget on Wednesday, but with the deadlock in wage talks that is unlikely to happen.

The public sector wage bill makes up about one-third of total government expenditure.

The government has been trying to keep a lid on rising civil servants' salaries as part of efforts to contain recurring budget deficits.

The government's offer to public servants included a once-off cash payment of 1,000 rand ($55), but unions say that does not materially improve their income.

"As long as the cash gratuity ends next year March they (PSA members) won't accept the deal," senior PSA official Reuben Maleka told Reuters.

Most unions in the country's largest labour federation COSATU, which is in an alliance with the governing African National Congress, have also rejected the government's wage offer. But they are yet to file a notice that they intend to strike.

($1 = 18.3251 rand)


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