A public service national strike could see parts of South Africa come to a standstill.
The Public Servants Association (PSA) and the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), which represent about 235, 000 public servants, will strike from Thursday.
The PSA said the strike will have a serious affect on government departments, particularly home affairs, transport and border control.
Why are they striking?
Plans for the strike come after employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi implemented a 3% wage increase for the state’s 1.3-million workers and announced the discontinuation of a cash gratuity after March 31 2023.
The PSA is demanding a 6.5% increase and continuation of the gratuity beyond March 31. Unions initially demanded a 10% increase when negotiations started in May.
“Public servants, like other employees and taxpayers, are feeling the severe effects of major price increases for fuel, transport and food as well as interest rate hikes,” said the association.
“The cash gratuity, which is not pensionable and thus not an ultimate solution, assisted public servants and if retained beyond March 2023 will further assist public servants who have not received a salary increase for the past three years.”
Finance minister Enoch Godongwana reportedly said government has “no room” to meet the demands.
“We have done all we could. 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%.”
‘Meagre increase has angered the PSA’
The PSA said government’s decision to unilaterally implement the “meagre” increase in November 2022 angered the association.
“The unilateral decision by government will have a serious affect on how negotiations will be conducted in the public sector in future. This irresponsible action has further damaged the already fragile relations and severe trust deficit between government and unions. The PSA’s national strike will be supported by its sister unions affiliated to Fedusa,” it said.
Protest to cripple matric exams, ports of entry and courts
PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka told Newzroom Afrika the country will come to a standstill.
“We have visitors, people that are outside the country that want to use airports to come or leave the country. Those are crucial services that would not be available if you go to the ports of entry. This includes airports.
“If you arrive at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday you will not find anybody to process services. If you go to the department of justice, if there is a court roll that needs to be done, you will not find anybody. Those are some of the key departments.
“Teachers are also members. Teachers are suffering like any other public servant.
“As much as we don’t want to disrupt exams, this is not to blame trade unions. This is to blame the government. For some time they have dragged their feet. We cannot be blackmailed, as trade unions, that we cannot disrupt exams.”