Wage Bargaining | Four lessons from trade unions in the public sector


Wage Bargaining | Four lessons from trade unions in the public sector

Suzan Ntlatleng HOSPERSA’s Chief Negotiator at the Public Sector Coordinating Bargaining Council, Suzan Ntlatleng 

In May, trade unions representing public servants formally tabled their wage demands and other remuneration benefits at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC).

A bargaining council regulates wages and conditions of employment in a sector. Agreements reached in these negotiations are called settlements and can be extended by the Minister of Employment and Labour to non-parties (workers and employers not registered with the council).

The consolidated demands of trade unions include a 10% wage increase applying to all public servants. This increase would cover the government’s 2022/23 fiscal year.  The wage bargaining position of the unions was eroded after they lost their case at the Constitutional Court in February. The unions sought to force the government to implement wage increases of about 8% in 2020, under the last leg of a three-year wage agreement. 

In this video, HOSPERSA‘s Chief Negotiator at the PSCBC, Suzan Ntlatleng, shares four key lessons learned by trade unions in the public sector:

  1. Have a written commitment from the Treasury mandating the employer to enter into wage negotiations.
  2. Table demands before the budgeting processes of the employer
  3. Prepare thoroughly for wage negotiations and interrogate the claims made by the employer, including the economic outlook.
  4. Avoid multi-year collective agreements. Negotiate wage adjustments for a single year.

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