Unions, government face off in court over wage dispute

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali spoke with eNCA's Tumelo Mothotoane. Courtesy of #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - The protracted wage dispute between government and public servants is playing out in the country’s highest court on Tuesday.

Last year, unions challenged government’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from a three-year wage agreement.

This bid was lost at the Labour Court.

READ: Cosatu warns against 'attacks on collective bargaining'

Workers are questioning the constitutionality of government’s decision not to implement wage increases in 2020.

Labour federation Cosatu says the matter could have been resolved out of court.

"The failure of the government to acknowledge when they have made a mistake, maybe they entered into this agreement without properly looking in the resources of how to fund this agreement," said Cosatu general-secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.

READ: Public Sector Wage Talks | 1.5% is better than nothing - Fedusa

"But instead of engaging, they went to the court. I think they find it an easier route to nullify that agreement.

"There is a lack of political will. The Minister who negotiated this agreement is Minister Dlodlo, she is back there now," he said.

"In our view, in the last few days she was elected, she could have approached the trade unions, go to the Constitutional Court with an out-of-court agreement to say we are committed to implement that agreement one way or another.

"Within that framework, parties are allowed to vary the agreement for whatever reason but just to nullify it, and behave like it never existed, I think sets the wrong precedent."


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