Public servants prepare for indefinite strike action – here are their plans

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    Nat Quinn
    Unions will continue to plan strikes despite the government considering the wage negotiations as concluded for 2022/23 – with the next planned strike action happening as soon as Friday (9 December) at the parliament buildings in Cape Town.
    The Public Servants Association (PSA) said that unions had been forced to intensify their industrial action after communication between workers and the government broke down completely.
    Several unions, including the PSA, Cosatu, and Nehawu, commenced multiple strikes in a bid to force the government to give in to their demands of a double-digit wage increase – with the first taking place in October, followed by another two on 10 and 22 November 2022.
    Unfortunately for the unions, these strikes did nothing to improve the government’s offer, which remained at a unilateral wage increase of 3% and continued R1,000 cash gratuity until March 2023.
    According to the PSA, as far as the government is concerned, the 2022/23 salary negotiations are concluded, and they have encouraged unions to table new demands to commence negotiations for 2023/24.
    This sentiment has outraged the unions, with the PSA announcing that unions will not proceed with negotiations for 2023/24 until the 2022/23 impasse is resolved. Until then, unions will continue to intensify the pressure on the government to highlight these workers’ plight – targeting service departments for continued strike action.
    The current plans for strike action are listed below, as outlined by the PSA:
    • Continued lunch-hour picketing at service departments nationwide;
    • Protest action outside the house of parliament in Cape Town on 9 December 2022;
    • Protest action at the upcoming ANC congress in December 2022 due to certain ministers’ attacks on collective bargaining;
    • Various protest actions at all major government events going forward; and
    • Union members will refuse to perform unpaid overtime work to force the government to fill vacancies which is putting pressure on current employees.
    “Public servants’ anger has reached an uncontrollable level, and they are prepared for indefinite strike action. Workers are prepared to fight fire with fire and bring the country to a standstill,” said the PSA.
    “The PSA cautions the government to heed this warning as public servants have reached the end of their patience with government,” it added.
    Government’s contingency plan
    In a parliamentary Q&A, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) said it has developed a detailed strike management plan to mitigate any disruptions from the strikes.
    “Measures to mitigate the strike’s impact have been put in place. Picketing rules have been concluded with organised labour, and the procedural requirements for a protected picket and strike have been outlined,” said acting minister of public service and administration Thulas Nxesi.
    These measures, as outlined by the minister, include the establishment of strike management committees across all the departments.
    “The provincial departments will be coordinated from the offices of the premiers. Reports pertaining to the strike will be collated daily and be sent to the co-ordinating structure and then to the DPSA,” he said.


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