Public sector unions want salary increases of between 10 percent and 12 percent, as public sector wage negotiations kick off. Business Day reported on Thursday that the unions recently tabled their demands with the Public Sector Co-ordinating Bargaining Council, and government has until Friday to respond.
The unions reportedly cited the effect of the economy's junk status on them as motivation for the increases. But the civil servants reportedly say they would have asked for higher increases had they known President Jacob Zuma would reshuffle his Cabinet this week.
Deputy general manager of the Public Servants Association (PSA) Tahir Maepa told Business Day that the union was concerned about the effects of the reshuffle on the economy, and therefore on the disposable income of public sector workers.
"If we had known there was going to be another reshuffle, we would have waited and not tabled our demands. In the long run, the reshuffle will have a negative impact on the economy. Political instability is not good for the country's economy. We may not feel it today, but in days to come it will have a detrimental effect," he reportedly said.
The PSA joined the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) earlier this year, according to Eyewitness News. At least one analyst does not foresee major strike action if the public sector wage negotiations do not go according to plan, due to the economic downturn. Aadil Patel, head of employment practice at law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, told Fin24 that there had been a general trend of fewer strikes during "strike season", typically between June and August, owing to the effects of the poor economy.
He reportedly said this was likely to continue into the public sector wage negotiations, especially among the more established unions.