Friday, June 29, 2007

South African Public Service Strike Is Over

PRETORIA 28 June 2007 Sapa


The majority of public service unions on Thursday agreed to sign government's final wage offer, ending the longest public service strike in South African history.

Although teachers' unions, whose members were at the forefront of the strike, did not accept the deal, majority approval meant it would be implemented across the whole public service.

"It's not quite a win-win for everybody. It's a win-win for
certain sectors and maybe not such a win-win for other sectors," said Dave Balt, president of the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA. He said teachers' unions would take their grievances up with the government.

"There are a number of aspects of the actual proposal that are unacceptable to us. There will be a process where we will follow up," he said.

Apart from a 7.5 percent increase, the government's offer
includes an increase of the Consumer Price Index less mortgage costs (CPIX) plus one percent for next year. It also made provision for the implementation of revised salary structures for professionals in the public service. The offer also included an increased Government Employees Medical Scheme contribution as well as a R500 housing allowance.

The deal also contained a framework for setting up a minimum
service agreement with essential service workers. This would ensure that minimum services would be maintained during strikes.

"Definitely we would see a situation during a future strike that essential services would not be as severely affected. There would not be any loss of life," said Success Mataitsane of the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers.

As part of the agreement a no-work-no-pay rule would apply.
Public servants who were on strike would have pay deducted over the next three months.

Balt commented: "Obviously we were hoping for something more

National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union president Noluthando Mayende Sibiya hailed the deal as a victory for workers. This was despite the fact that they didn't get the 12 percent increase unions initially aimed for.

"The strike is historic, a turning point in the lives of public sector workers. This combination of unity and militancy means that never again will the employer dare to treat us with the callous indifference they have displayed in the past and during this dispute. They were forced to compromise when confronted by the militancy and determination of the workforce," she said.

Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine
Fraser-Moleketi on Thursday only acknowledged that the strike had been called off. She expressed no opinion on the announcement that the majority of unions had accepted the government's final wage offer.

"Government, as the employer, acknowledges the calling-off of
the strike action by public service unions and awaits a majority signature," read her one-line statement.

JOHANNESBURG 28 June 2007 Sapa


Nurses fired for joining the public servants' strike would be
reinstated as part of efforts to normalise health care delivery, the department of health said on Thursday.

About 2,700 nurses were sacked for defying a court order which banned their participation, as essential services workers, in the three-week strike.

Department spokesman Sibani Mngadi said their dismissals would be withdrawn and be replaced with a final written warning when they returned to their posts.

He said nurses had begun returning to their posts even before
the strike was finally settled at a 7.5 percent increase, compared to the 12 percent the workers had originally been aiming for.

The department was reviewing the cumulative effect of the strike and how much it owed the private facilities that accepted patients when hospitals were closed either through fears of violence or through a depleted nursing corps.

The department thanked health workers helped people receive
health care during the strike, the SA Military Health Service which sent medics to help out at busy facilities like Johannesburg's Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, the private health sector and volunteers.

It would ensure the speedy finalisation of the
occupation-specific dispensation which will improve the
remuneration of health professionals. This will be negotiated in the sectoral bargaining chamber and implemented retrospectively from July 1, 2007.

It would also discuss and finalise a minimum service level
agreement for the public health sector.

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001 215 473 5893

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