26 September 2023

SOUTH AFRICA: Wage talks ‘second to virus fight’

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South Africa’s Minister of Public Services and Administration says unions will have to “park” their wage disputes with the Government until the Coronavirus crisis is over.

Senzo Mchunu (pictured) said the Government had identified the functions of the Public Service that were “essential” and these would continue working through a state of lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa

He said essential services would include security, health and personnel to facilitate access to public service amenities.

Mr Mchunu’s remarks come amid continuing tensions with Public Service unions and doubts whether some of its more militant members would abide by lockdown rulings if an already agreed pay increase does not come into effect.

“It is necessary to park any impasse when it comes to Public Service wage negotiations or agreements,” Mr Mchunu said.

“A much more urgent challenge is facing the Government and South African society in general,” he said.

“What I am able to say is that organised labour is aware and shares the concern of the Coronavirus and contributing in the fight.”

He said he had not heard “any union or anyone in labour making any noise to the contrary with regard to Coronavirus”.

“We appreciate that we are united in this and we don’t want that to be confused with any other thing,” the Minister said.

“We have made the necessary provisions for the Public Service to continue operating at National and Provincial Government levels during the 21-day lockdown.”

Mr Mchunu said that while essential service staff continued to report for duty at the frontline of the Public Service, other staff, including administrative staff, were expected to report for duty remotely and would be given the tools needed to do so during the lockdown.

Pretoria, 27 March 2020

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