Today's Labour News

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southafricalogoIn a letter to the editor, Johann Maree, UCT Emeritus Professor of Sociology, writes about the protracted negotiations over public-sector wages and working conditions.  

He agrees with Theto Mahlakoana’s point in her recent article Public sector wage bill out of control that there is a real danger that the high wage bill crowds out expenditure on services to the public.  Maree notes that good wages being afforded for civil servants can’t be begrudged, but there has been no similar increase in the quality of services they provide.  If anything, there has been a decline in services, most noticeably in state-owned enterprises.  A second key issue according to Maree is that the collective bargaining process in the public sector needs to be restructured along sectoral lines.  “It does not make sense that one over-arching bargaining council, the PSCBC, negotiates, in one forum, the wages of immensely diverse occupations, such as teachers, nurses, policemen and policewomen, and many more.”  Moreover, the structures already exist for sector-based bargaining, such as the Education Labour Relations Council and others.  The many advantages to bargaining public sector wages and working conditions sectorally are said to include that it would allow for more nuanced agreements that take the circumstances of each sector’s employees and working conditions into consideration and it would enable differentiated wage settlements so that underpaid public servants, such as police and teachers, could obtain greater increases


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