Majority South African public servants’ unions on Monday signed a pay deal agreement, effectively stopping a nationwide strike.
The agreement paves the way for salary adjustments and improved conditions of service from 2018 to 2021.
The development averted a prolonged industrial unrest with the potential to cripple the public services in Africa's most advanced economy.
South Africa's 1.3 million public servants will be getting increases of between 6 and 7 per cent, depending on their levels, including a restructured housing allowance.
The Public Service Association (PSA) confirmed that calling off the strike was subsequent to the signing of a three-year agreement by the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) and the majority of public sector unions, representing 65.74 per cent of the workers.
“The PSA is disappointed that its efforts in the interests of public servants were derailed by those unions that have decided to support this detrimental offer by the employer that has plunged the public servants into three years of financial hardship,” PSA General Manager, Ivan Fredericks, said.
Groups that signed the agreement include the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, South African Medical Association Public and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa, South African State and Allied Workers’ Union and the the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa.
Mr Fredericks said the PSA would strengthen its efforts to ensure that the face of the public service collective bargaining changed.
“The PSA will strive to ensure that the outcome of negotiations is no longer distorted by politics and as dictated by those in support of the mandate from the employer instead of the public servants who entrusted them with their livelihoods. We lost the fight for financial emancipation of public servants but the battle has just begun,” added Mr Fredericks.
The deal has taken months of protracted talks between the department of public service and administration and public-sector unions at the bargaining council.
PSCBC secretary-general Frikkie de Bruin said collective bargaining was the ultimate winner with parties being resolute in negotiating a settlement, irrespective of various challenges.
“Not everyone may be happy with everything in the resolution, but overall it attempts to address in some form the needs of the 1.3 million public servants impacted by the agreement,” he said.