Public Servants Association declares strike

 The standoff between civil servants and government in South Africa came to a head last week after Labor Minister Thulas Nxesi said he was unilaterally implementing a 3% wage increase for the state’s 1.3 million workers. Inflation is currently at 7.5%. Predictably, the Public Servants Association said yesterday its members will embark on a strike that will affect activities of government departments, especially home affairs and transport, from November 10. – Sandra Laurence

South Africa stands firm on state wage restraint as strike looms

By Prinesha Naidoo

(Bloomberg) –South Africa’s government won’t budge on plans to impose below-inflation wage increases on its workers even as a labor union that represents almost a quarter of a million state employees announced plans to strike, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said. 

The standoff between civil servants and the government has come to a head after Labor Minister Thulas Nxesi last week said he was unilaterally implementing a 3% wage increase for the state’s 1.3 million workers. The Public Servants Association said Tuesday that its members will embark on a strike that will affect activities of government departments, especially home affairs and transport, from Nov. 10. 

Unions have demanded a raise of as much as 10%. Inflation in South Africa is currently 7.5%.

“We have done all we could,” Godongwana said in an interview in Pretoria, the capital, Thursday. “We have got no room to move at the moment, even in the medium-term budget policy statement the carry-through costs we have are only for the 3%.”  

State salaries have increased by an annual average two percentage points above inflation for the past decade and compensation accounts for almost a third of government expenditure. Limiting further growth in the wage bill is key to government efforts to rein in debt and reduce budget deficits that soared during the Covid-19 pandemic and its related lockdowns.  

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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