Unions meet government in third national action of year – setbacks be damned

PSA members protest during the officers’ strike on November 10, 2022 in downtown CBD Pretoria.

  • Seven public sector unions will begin a one-day public sector strike in eight provinces on Tuesday.
  • Union structures in the Western Cape chose to postpone their march to Parliament over security concerns over the ongoing taxi strike in that province.
  • The Government said it expects public servants to be on duty as usual and any picketing to be limited to lunchtime.
  • For more financial stories, see News24 Business front page.

Seven public sector unions face an uphill battle as they press ahead with their national day of action on Tuesday, which will be the third nationwide one-day strike by organized labor this year alone.

The government told News24 that, as with the last one-day public sector strike, it expects all public employees to be on duty on Tuesday and will apply the “no work no pay” principle. Meanwhile, on Monday afternoon, the Western Cape structures of these unions announced that they would postpone the demonstrations due to safety concerns amid ongoing taxi strikes.

Unions affiliated with Cosatu, the South African Trade Union Confederation (Saftu) and the South African Trade Union Confederation (Fedusa) last week announced the planned national day of action – the latest in a series of demonstrations unions have organized nationally this year.

In August, Cosatu and Saftu jointly held a one-day general strike across the country to protest corruption; load shedding, which had reached level 6 at the time; and the wage blockade in the civil service.

In early November, the Public Servants’ Association (PSA) staged a nationwide one-day strike across the country, complete with a march to the Treasury in Pretoria. Since then, unions have continued to picket and threatened more demonstrations.

READ | Public sector wage strike in WCape postponed over taxi chaos

Picket at your leisure

The disruption caused by the national demonstrations organized so far has been relatively minor, and Civil Service and Administration spokesman Moses Mushi said the government expected a normal working day on Tuesday – adding that the policy stipulated “no work – no pay.” ‘ did during the PSA march.

“All we can say is that we expect officers to be at work tomorrow. Those picketing must picket their own time. Those picketing during working hours, no work, no pay,” Mushi said.

Mushi said officials in the Western Cape who are unable to show up for duty on Tuesday because of the taxi strike should notify their superiors. All other public employees who are not sick or furloughed are expected to work, he noted.

“These cases are managed by the managers in these offices, so on a case-by-case basis, the managers have to apply their thoughts and best deal with the situation,” Mushi said.

READ | Unions reject government’s ‘misleading’ final salary offer

The nationwide strike day will include a demonstration in each province to reject the government’s offer of a 3% base wage for civil servants.

The main demonstration in Gauteng will be a march to the offices of the National Treasury in Pretoria. Trade union structures in the Free State will march to Bloemfontein.

In the northwest, members will march to Prime Minister Bushy Maape’s office. In Mpumalanga, workers march to Batho Pele Public Works Office and Tinstwalo Hospital.

In KwaZulu-Natal, members will march to the Marine Building in Durban. In the Eastern Cape, members will march to Bisho. Members of the North Cape will march to Prime Minister Zamani Saul’s office.

The Limpopo March will include structures in all five districts in their respective regions. The Western Cape was due to hold a march to Parliament but this was postponed due to the SA National Taxi Council taxi strike.

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