Instead of bending the knee to public sector unions, the ANC government should stand up to them  

Issued by Dr Michael Cardo MP – DA Shadow Minister for Employment and Labour
16 Mar 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dr Michael Cardo MP.

The DA welcomes the fact that the public sector strike has been called off after weeks of destructive, violent and callous industrial action by members of the National Education and Health Workers Union (Nehawu) in particular.

Indications are that the government and various trade unions representing over a million public sector workers are close to finalising an agreement in the Public Service Co- Ordinating Bargaining Council.

However, the government’s reported flip-flop on its 3 per cent wage increase for 2022/2023 – and the likelihood that it will settle at far above its initial offer of a 4.7 per cent raise for 2023/2024 – indicates a spineless administration. The ruling party is unwilling to stand up to its trade union allies, and it caves in to pressure at the drop of a hat.

The government’s failure to rein in the exorbitant public sector wage bill will have ruinous consequences: it is likely to push South Africa off the fiscal cliff and open the floodgates to all sorts of other populist policy folly. Indeed, the latest developments completely undermine the Treasury’s commitment to keeping a lid on spending of R700bn-plus on public sector salaries.

The fact of the matter is that the state doesn’t have the money to make promises it can’t afford to keep. Instead of kowtowing to the unions, the ANC government should locate its backbone – or rapidly grow one – and do what is right by the country.