The COSATU Public Service Unions are deeply disappointed that a three-day conciliation process with the employer, over wage negotiations, that began on Friday, 10 April 2015, has not yielded any results. Both parties have so far failed to reach the middle ground or a find a solution to the ongoing impasse. Labour is still demanding 10% salary adjustment and R1500 housing allowance and the employer still offers 5, 8% salary adjustment and R1100 housing allowance across the board. This is because the employer still continues to drag its feet and is openly refusing to come up with a reasonable offer for consideration by our members.
This unfortunately means that after seven months of negotiations, the employer’s attitude has not changed and their level of ill-informed overconfidence and carelessness is increasing. We have always maintained that at the centre of the employer’s lack of cooperation and intransigence is the Department of Finance. The biggest enemy of the workers and the working class in this country is the Treasury. They are prepared to bend over backwards to pacify the capitalist class and will do everything to oppress the workers so as to please the foreign institutions and ratings agencies.
The level of intransigence and arrogance, displayed by the employer, therefore comes from the mandate as dictated to by the Treasury. They have a clear and deliberate agenda to implement selective voluntary austerity measures. We call these austerity measures selective, because they are only directed only to the workers and the poor and are meant to appease capital.
There are no other social strata’s that have been subjected to these measures except the working class. For the last two years, the Treasury has been leading an anti-worker agenda and has been making public declarations statements vilifying the workers and treating them like a costly nuisance.
We find this not only mischievous but also deeply intolerable; we are clear that there is a concerted effort to reverse the gains of the workers and make their organisations redundant.
Government insists on adhering to discredited neo-liberal policies of GEAR that have continuously failed the poor majority of this country. This goes against the radical second phase of transition that we were promised and actually represents the betrayal of the workers who overwhelmingly voted for the manifesto during the last elections.
Everyday, we are subjected to media reports of wasteful expenditure by government and reports of exorbitant profits made by private companies that are doing the business with the state; the Auditor General’s report is full of stories about corruption and mismanagement of taxpayer’s money. They continue to enjoy their ever expanding benefits and salaries and yet they refuse to give workers decent wage increases. We refuse to be reduced to beggars and we won’t allow the employer to impose the percentage increase on us.
Our unions will conclude the on-going membership consultation processes by next week. We are going to continue to engage with the employer with the hope of resolving this amicably. But, the writing is on the wall for us that the employer cheered on by Treasury, are prepared to emasculate the unions and undermine the concept of bargaining.
Starting on Thursday next week, we will be taking our battle to the streets with Treasury on our sight. All our unions will be mobilising their members for a massive march in Pretoria to the Department of Finance. We will also be having nationwide stayaways, pickets and demonstrations in the other eight provinces.
This represents the first step for us to our battle to the streets. Our patience is wearing thin and going forward we will be left with no option but to abandon the boardroom altogether and go to the streets fulltime.