Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 22:19:40 -0500 (CDT)
Statement of COSATU Public Service Unions
24 August 1999
COSATU Public Service affiliated unions are happy about the turn out in the strike action and marches called today to protest against the government's recalcitrance with regard to the salary dispute in the public service.
We are equally happy about the public support that our action has received. Naturally, the public who are dependants of workers' wages, will find common cause with us in our determination to rid poverty and inculcate a culture of fairness between the government and public servants.
About 570 000 workers responded to the call to march and engaged in the protest action in a remarkable and disciplined manner.
We would like to thank all these workers in the sincere belief that they will in future respond as they have done today when ever their interests and those of the working class in general are at stake. Similarly, we welcome the participation of those workers that are not organised in our ranks.
In joining hands as we did today, we began to see the light shining at the end of the tunnel - arousing our hopes as it must, in the belief that out there lies the working class banner on which the motto "One country, one federation" waits to embrace us all.
Our demand for an inflation-related salary increase remains. We demand a 7.3% pay increase. The reasonable demand for an inflation related increase has been deliberately misunderstood even by those with a knowledge of the nature of inflation.
With Core Inflation standing at a staggering 8.2%, our demand for a 7.3% increase is still a compromise. Headline Inflation (which stands at 4.9%) has been the only factor advanced and communicated to the public as the only inflation determining factor. This propaganda must stop if we are to have any meaningful and sensible debate on the current dispute.
We would like to reiterate the importance of a 7.3% increase in redressing the apartheid wage gap - an objective factor that cannot be wished away even by apartheid apologists. Similarly, we reiterate the reasonable demand for the employer to go back to the negotiation table with an open mind so that we are able to resolve the dispute. All forms of negotiations must surely include the core of the dispute, in particular the wage dispute.
In this regard, we call of the government to consider all the options put forward by organised labour in the Public Service Co-ordination Bargaining Council. This call naturally implies that government representatives must refrain from negotiating our demands in the media.
Vusi Nhlapo: NEHAWU President 082 990 6447
Zizamele Cebekhulu: POPCRU President: