The South African government has struck a three-year wage deal with the unions representing public sector workers, agreeing to salary hikes that are only slightly above the inflation rate amid its efforts to deal with a budget deficit.
“All of us, everyone in the bargaining council, is signing the agreement today,” National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) spokesperson Khaya Xaba said on Monday.
Xaba said the government had offered a deal lasting from 2018 to 2020, which made provisions for wage increases of up to 7 percent in the first year, and hikes of up to projected inflation (CPI) plus 1 percent in 2019 and 2020.
The wage increases are well below the 12 percent initially demanded by the unions.
Mugwena Maluleke, chief negotiator for COSATU, the largest trade union federation, said, “We are not happy. However, we have done our best in terms of pushing the employer from the 4.5 percent they were offering.”
The deal is viewed as a significant victory for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose administration has been making efforts to restore confidence to public finances and stave off ratings downgrades.
The agreement was reached as divisions deepened among the unions in the course of the seven-month negotiations, preventing them from finding common ground against the government.
By Africafrique and agencies