The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] strongly condemns utterances by Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana that government may have to consider retrenching public servants to bring the wage bill to more sustainable levels.

As NEHAWU, we deplore any plans by government to retrench workers which would result in a job bloodbath. We deem the utterance by the Minister as reckless and a serious provocation. We want to send a strong warning to the Minister and government, that we will fight with all in our power any retrenchments.

The country is in the midst of crisis levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality and yet the Minister of Finance is fixated on retrenchments and cutting the public service wage bill. The South African economy still remains in doldrums with a negative growth in the second quarter. Instead of providing concrete and tangible solutions to the crisis of unemployment that is sitting at a record 44% mostly affecting youth and women, in his myopic mind, retrenchments are a solution. The reckless utterances by the Minister goes totally against resolutions of the Presidential Jobs Summit on creating more jobs and decent jobs and also protecting the existing jobs.

We refute the notion that public service is bloated and requires reduction. As things stand, the public service is understaffed in health, education and policing as a result of austerity measures which has led to the weakening of state capacity to deliver quality services to a growing population. Our members are required to go an extra mile in delivering quality service as a result of staff shortage.

What is more infuriating about the utterances is that they occur against the background of an onslaught on collective bargaining and the rights of workers. The government has just recently unilaterally implemented a 3% wage increment that was rejected by majority unions at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council [PSCBC] totally disregarding collective bargaining and the PSCBC as a platform for social dialogue. We view this as the highest level of sheer arrogance and the total disregard of workers.

This further proves our long-held assertion that this government through national treasury has prioritised implementing austerity measures including reducing public service wage bill, cuts in social spending, salary freezes, outsourcing, mass retrenchments, and freezing funded vacant posts amongst others. Indeed, this government has made it its task to reverse and roll-back the gains made by workers over the years. The utterance by Minister Godongwana confirm it.

As NEHAWU, we recommend the Minister to focus on eradicating wasteful, fruitless, and irregular expenditure by government and managing the country’s finances for the promotion of economic development, good governance, social progress and a rising standard of living for all South Africans.

Lastly, as NEHAWU, we vow to relentlessly fight any planned retrenchments in the public service.


Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Lwazi Nkolonzi (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: