NEHAWU statement on the delaying tactics by the DPSA, 1% VAT Increase and Minimum Wage

It is now clear that no salary increase will be effected for public servants on the 1st April 2018 as expected and the national union at this point wants to warn the new Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ayanda Dlodlo, not to start the current negotiation afresh. As NEHAWU, we demand that she continues from where her predecessor left off.

As NEHAWU, we want to register our serious concern regarding the continuous postponement of wage negotiations by the employer without any valid reason and want to warn the government not to undermine collective bargaining. We hope the delay from the employers was for good reasons. To this end, the scheduled meeting of the 4th and 5th April 2018 must be used to finalise the negotiations in order to ensure members receive their salary increase on time.

On the 6th April 2018, the union will convene its national bargaining forum to receive a report on what transpired on the two days of salary negotiations and immediately determine a way forward on what need to be done. While being patient of these process, the union will be preparing its members for a real fight if things are not going to go on their way and wish to prepare all South Africans for any eventuality in case where things are not going on our way. It is in the interest of the South African society to reach a settlement agreement amicably not at the detriment of workers who are producers of the South African economy and providing services to its people. Same as the South Africa society, it is not in our interest as the union to put the country on a standstill or render the system unworkable but to act in the interest of our members and the poor.

On the 1% VAT increase

The union further wishes to warn the government not to effect the VAT 1% increase by the 1st April 2018 as this act will have a negative impact on workers and working class in general. The country is faced by the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment yet the democratic government which supposedly has to take care of the plight of the poor continues to perpetuate hardships to the working class. In this regard, we call upon the State President not to allow his cronies to punish the poor more as a result of their inability to create a productive economy that ensures job creation through state capture, corruption and maladministration taking place in the state owned enterprises and government departments in particular.

The union wishes to assure workers and the working class in general that it shall not fold its arms and watch people continue to do as they wish with resources meant to improve the lives of the poor and workers in their particular.

On the minimum wage

The union has noted the delay in signing the Minimum Wage into law from the 1st May 2018, it is indeed regrettable and disappointing. We welcome the fact that about 47% of the workforce would benefit from the introduction of the minimum wage. However, we feel that the declaration or legislative proclamation of the Minimum Wage must be accompanied by a dedicated programme with budgeted allocation and additional personnel in the Department of Labour to ensure the enforcement of the minimum wage so that these workers would indeed benefit and those that were already paid above the minimum wage would not be adversely and unfairly disadvantaged – where some employers would reduce their pay to the Minimum Wage level. The introduction of the Minimum Wage, which is subject to annual adjustment with the cost of living, requires adequate capacity for enforcement.

As NEHAWU, we note the fact that government is dragging its also feet with regard to the Community Healthcare Workers who must be absorbed as soon as possible if primary health care, which is the bedrock of the National Health Insurance [NHI] is to succeed. In this regard, we call on the National Treasury to prioritise the absorption of the Community Healthcare Workers. When the absorption takes place we expect them to be absorbed at level 4 in the public service to ensure that the Minimum Wage is not be used to put downward pressure on salaries scales in the public service.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha
(General Secretary)
at 082 558 5968;