earningsBusiness Times reports that public sector trade unions are planning to push back against the government's plans to curb wage increases for public servants, saying wasteful expenditure must be addressed first before curbs on compensation can be discussed.  

In a desperate bid to contain a hefty public sector wage bill, the Treasury has suggested below-inflation increases for public servants, doing away with automatic pay increases and scrapping occupation-specific dispensation allowances (paid to teachers, nurses and doctors to retain them).  Wage increments and bonuses for the cabinet and other executives will be frozen, and expenditure on domestic travel has been restricted to economy class, among other cost-cutting measures.  Finance minister Tito Mboweni said the government would begin talks soon with unions ahead of the new wage negotiations next year.  But Tahir Maepa of the Public Servants Association (PSA) said:  "We don't take kindly to the fact that we are going to be dragged to the negotiation table with the barrel of a gun to our heads.  These were the things that should have been put on the bargaining forum for us to deal with instead of him announcing.  What is the purpose of negotiating?  We are going to take them on."  Zwelinzima Vavi of the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said public servants had been "facing a squeeze for the past six years" and were "being blamed for everything by the neoliberals.”  He warned:  “There's an exaggeration that there are too many (civil servants).  All we know is that there is going to be war."  Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said all issues pertaining to collective bargaining could only be discussed at appropriate forums convened by the Department of Public Service & Administration, which should do an audit of the wage bill to determine which section of the public service was the biggest contributor to the bloated wage bill.  "If you make workers accept sacrifices and not correct where the waste actually is, then the problem will continue," Losi pointed out.


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