BusinessLive reports that the government lost its first court battle on the public-sector wage bill, after its attempt to have the arbitration process postponed was dismissed by the labour court. The department of public service and administration and the Treasury had approached the court to postpone arbitration proceedings pending the outcome of a court case challenging the government’s decision not to implement a standing wage agreement to increase public servants salaries, as of April 1. The battle with public-sector unions over the implementation of increases for public servants, as agreed on in the final year of a multiterm wage agreement, started after finance minister Tito Mboweni pencilled in huge cuts to the public-sector wage bill in February, in an attempt to trim the budget deficit.
In the light of that, the government did not increase the wages as per the agreement, and that decision is now subject to both court and arbitration proceedings. The judgment, handed down on Thursday by judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje, dismissed the government’s application. This means arbitration proceedings instituted to settle the dispute at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) by Cosatu public-sector unions the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa), Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), will be able to continue.
by Claudi Mailovich