The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disturbed that Parliament has decided to protect public sector trade unions from scrutiny for their recent destructive behaviour in demanding further above-inflation wage increases. Yesterday, the DA was informed of a unilateral decision taken by Parliament to indefinitely postpone a portfolio committee meeting that was scheduled to take place tomorrow, 16 October.
During the meeting, members of the portfolio committee on public service and administration would have had the opportunity to hold the leaders of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) accountable for their calls to commit fiscal treason against the Republic by demanding further across the board above-inflation wage increases for 1.2 million public servants.
Ironically, the meeting was scheduled at NEHAWU’s behest after the union submitted a memorandum to Parliament, wherein they demanded that the government implement the final year of wage increases contained in the 2018 collective bargaining agreement, which would cost taxpayers an additional R37.8 billion this year. This comes after the salaries of public servants have already increased by 66% after inflation over the past decade, with over 29 000 cadres now being paid more than R1 million per year. NEHAWU’s demand to further wage increases at the direct expense of productive investment comes after over 2.2 million people have already lost their jobs in the productive private sector.
However, likely in fear of the DA holding union leaders accountable for their irresponsible and destructive demands, the ANC in Parliament has now decided to protect their union allies by running away from the scheduled meeting. The DA’s request to be furnished with reasons for the indefinite postponement of the meeting were met with cowardly silence.
We will not allow this transparent attempt to protect destructive union leaders from accountability to derail our efforts to save South Africa from fiscal implosion. The DA reiterates our call for the number of millionaire managers to be reduced by a third and that the salaries of all managers and administrators to be frozen so that frontline service delivery heroes like teachers and nurses can at least get inflation-linked increases. This approach would cut the public wage bill by R168 billion over the next three years.
The DA will now write to the Speaker of the National Assembly to reiterate these points, and to demand that the meeting with NEHAWU is urgently rescheduled so that we can hold union leaders accountable for their treasonous calls.