POPCRU’s response to the joint DPSA and Finance Ministers’ statement

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has noted with disdain a joint statement issued on behalf of the Department of Public Service and the Treasury ministers, wherein they strenuously attempt to justify their position as it relates to the collapsed wage negotiations within the public service.

While their attempted justification takes place after a majority of trade unions rejected their offer, they continued to claim that they offered a total of 7,5% package which is a continuation of the current non-pensionable gratuity, and which according to them represents a 4,5% increase, a pensionable 3% increase across the board, and a 1,5% pay progression payable to all qualifying employees; all of which their total package amounts to a 9% increase.

We view these claims as just a label masquerading as an explanation, and feel the employer’s content in their statement is disingenuous, dishonest and an attempt to mislead workers and the public by providing flawed information as what they did was to merely give an account of a process undertaken, wherein they moved from a 0%, to 1,5% and then to a 3% offer.

To this effect, it must be mentioned that we have a standing agreement that our wage negotiations are benchmarked against the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and above. At the time the employer made the 0% offer, the inflation rate was at 5,9%, demonstrating that the employer entered these negotiations in bad faith. 

In their attempted explanation, they failed to indicate that on the past Monday (3 October 2022) they officially withdrew their 3% offer in a normal Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) sitting in which the majority of unions rejected their offer.

Their statement, which was issued on Wednesday (5 October 2022) fails to state that fact, demonstrating the levels of their disingenuity. They should have informed the public that they have formally withdrawn the offer, effectively meaning they think public servants deserve nothing, all while public office bearers, including the two ministers, have recently given themselves a 3% increase which was backdated for more than two years. It is convenient that when it came to their salary increases, they never became as reasonable as they expect public servants to be, and they never mentioned any constraints to the fiscus.

The salary increases of 3% that the two Ministers received amounted to almost R100 000 while they expect public servants, who are on salary level 5 earning R95 067 to accept an increase of 3% that will amount to R97 919, an increase of R 2000 that must cover the cost of rising economic cost while Ministers spend little as the state covers their living costs.

They stay in state houses, are driven by state vehicles and enjoy all benefits while the very workers who are responsible for their safety and security cannot afford taxi fares, live in backrooms and squatter camps.

They talk about pay progression as if it is an integral part of the increase, while in reality, it is known that it does not fall within that realm. Pay progression is provided for in the performance management system, which is separate from an increase. it is something that has long been agreed to, and to claim it as something new is to create an illusion that there are areas of compromise which have been met in these recent rounds of negotiations. They included it for the purposes of intentionally misleading the workers, but as well to gain public sympathy.

At any rate of the current gratuity that is currently in place, it is informed by a resolution that was signed in 2021, hence it is continuing.

The government’s attitude during wage negotiations has always been arrogance, and this can be backed by the fact that since negotiations commenced on the 31st of May 2022, they initially came with a 0% offer, and later on, on the 20th of June 2022 they presented a 1,5% offer on the baseline and a non-pensionable cash gratuity.

To set the record straight, we give a detailed account of events below;

  • On the 18th of August 2022, the employer presented their final offer of 2% plus a non-pensionable cash gratuity of R1000 that was rejected. POPCRU demanded a 10% increase on the baseline.
  • On the 25th of August 2022, parties agreed on a facilitation process to commence on the 26th – 30th of August 2022.
  • On the 31st of August 2022, a revised draft agreement with a 3% increment plus a R1000 non-pensionable cash gratuity was rejected by POPCRU after having consulted on a mandate. Following this, on the 3rd of October 2022, the draft agreement did not receive majority support at Council, and therefore fell off in terms of the PSCBC clause 17. 10.
  • POPCRU, NEHAWU and DENOSA formally declared a dispute, and are currently awaiting the hearing date of the conciliation which will enable them to receive a certificate to embark on industrial action.

Members find themselves in dire conditions as they cannot afford decent housing, and a majority of them have resorted to being backyard dwellers.

The loss on the pension growth since the non-implementation of the last leg of PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018 clause 3.3 has amounted to average loss of 10,7% which will amount to over R1,2 million in 10 years implying that workers who will be going on pension in 2032 with lesser pension pay-out.

Government has saved R32 Billion only on the non-implementation of the last leg of the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018 without taking into consideration the funds they save annually on their failure to fill vacant funded posts. The surplus funds on compensation of employees from public service amounts to billions of rands that are constantly being channelled to Eskom and other state-owned enterprises to be wasted on huge bonuses of executives who are failing to perform while on daily basis public servants are confronted with shortage of personnel and tools of trade.

Government’s malicious intentions were clear when Minister of Finance presented in his budget review where the Minister of Finance presented the decline in government expenditure on compensation of employees, the expenditure in 2020/2021 was 32.3% it further declined to 32% in 2021/2022 to 32% this trajectory will continue in 2022/2023 to 31.6%, 2022/2023 it will decline to 31% and in 2024/2025 will decline to 30.8%.

This is a clear indication of an attack on collective bargaining as wage negotiations are now turned to be a collective begging platform under the mercy of Minister of Finance, whose sole aim is to reverse our hard-earned gains.

Issued by POPCRU on 09/10/2022

For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349