Parliament must reject the DA’s inhumane Responsible Spending Bill

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the decision by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance to reject the Democratic Alliance (DA)’s reckless Responsible Spending Bill.  The DA’s Bill is a shocking attempt to impose brutal 10% plus salary cuts on nurses, teachers, police officers and other hard working and low paid public servants for the next 4 years and beyond.

The DA Bill tabled at Parliament proposes that for the next four years when the debt to gross domestic product ratio is:

  • Under 55%, public servants receive a 1% increase on average.
  • Between 55% and 60%, public servants receive a 0% increase.
  • Over 60%, public servants receive a 5% increase.

The DA Bill delinks increases in wages for cleaners, nurses and correctional service officers and other public servants from being pegged to inflation and be linked instead to the economy’s growth rate.  This will mean that under a DA administration, public servants would see on average a 10% plus reduction in their wages each year for the next decade.

It is to the DA’s discredit that the Bill is silent on the very comfortable salaries of its Members of Parliament, the Provincial Legislatures and Municipal Councils.  It is to the DA’s shame that it has voted against the progressive Companies Amendment Bill currently before Parliament that requires listed companies and State-Owned Enterprises to disclose the salaries and gap between what they pay their highest and lower earners to their shareholders and the public as part of reducing the painful apartheid wage and moving South Africa to a fairer wage regime.

The public service wage bill despite misleading scarecrows flighted by some, is not ballooning, in fact it has fallen from 35% to 31.7%.  We should be worried about the declining public service headcount ratio when we had 1 million public servants servicing 34 million South Africans in 1994, to 1.2 million public servants today for a population that has nearly doubled to 62 million.  This declining head count has placed great strain upon the ability of the state to provide the quality public services that working class communities and the economy depend upon.

The Bill is a brazen attempt to collapse workers’ hard-won constitutional rights to collective bargaining, delegate this to a legislative fiat and thus would not pass constitutional muster.

The Federation agrees that a debate is needed on the correct debt level and a path to ensure that it is placed on a sustainable path.  The solution however to managing the debt, is to grow the economy, fix Eskom and Transnet and other critical State-Owned Enterprises, rebuild the state, provide relief for the poor and unemployed.  Pickpocketing paramedics and doctors will not only plunge them into debt but in fact spark a brain drain of skilled public servants from the state to the private sector and overseas.

COSATU urges the National Assembly to reject this anti-worker Bill as a populist election pamphlet and a misguided attempt to dump the bill for state capture and corruption upon nurses and teachers.

Issued by COSATU.

For further comment please contact:

Matthew Parks

Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator

Cell: 082 785 0687


6th Floor, Constitution House,

124 Adderley Street,

Cape Town 8000, South Africa