13 June 2007
Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in Cape Town this morning.
Cabinet noted the developments regarding the negotiations in the Public Service Bargaining Chamber and the nature and form of the public sector strike. The meeting noted that the negotiations were proceeding under the guidance of the mediators and an agreement should be reached soon.
Government and its negotiators are working around the clock to ensure that a settlement is reached sooner rather than later. We fully appreciate and welcome the role of the mediators and we are more than confident that all parties will fully support them in this difficult task.
We wish to inform the public that the government offer will be going a long way to improve the overall package paid to public servants. We are concerned that not enough is being done by union leaders to inform their members of the details of the overall package being offered, apart from the basic figure for the basic salary increase.
In addition to the annual increase 6.5 %, or 7.25 % as proposed by the mediators, our offer includes increasing the housing allowance; increasing medical aid contribution; a 25% adjustment to nightshift, special and danger allowances and full implementation of overtime payment as per the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. The adjustments will amount, for those who access the housing allowance and belong to Government Employee Medical Scheme (GEMS), to an 18% increase for the lowest paid workers and about 9.4 % for the highest paid employees in the public service. (The 18% and 9% include the annual increment mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph).
This package recognises seniority, period of service, performance, qualifications scope and nature of work. For instance, employees with longer service will earn higher salaries. In short, the 6.5% is a general increase which is the minimum that every public servant will receive in addition to these benefits.
While the details of the Occupation Specific Dispensation will be negotiated, we envisage for instance, that a professional nurse with the current starting salary of R79 000 per annum (excluding benefits) will see an increase to R90 000 and a nurse with excellent performance of five years will receive an increase of 22 %. The starting salary of a teacher with a four four-year qualification will increase from R99 540 to R105 741 (excluding benefits).
The suggestion that the state is intransigent and is not interested in addressing the plight of employees is based on misinformation and at best misleading.
The strike has affected mainly schools and hospitals with learners and the sick being the biggest losers in the situation. Whilst most strikers have conducted themselves in a dignified manner, Government is extremely disappointed that some have trampled on the right of learners to learn, the right of the sick to gain access to urgent medical care and the rights of those who want to work.
In our view, no amount of anger and frustration can justify the violent disruption of mid year-examinations, trashing of an operation theatre in a hospital or preventing a pregnant mother from accessing urgent medical attention. This situation is totally unacceptable. Government wants to re-iterate that whilst our Constitution enshrines the right to strike, the use of violence and intimidation to force others to join a strike can never be justified in a democracy, least of all, our democracy that so many of our people died for.
This government, and the majority of South Africans, must and will condemn acts of violence and intimidation and will call on the strikers to demonstrate their commitment to democratic principles and distance themselves from the unruly behaviour that has characterised parts of the strike. The irresponsible utterances of some of the union leaders, which amounted to incitement, is something that is of great concern to government. Instead of distancing themselves from the violence and intimidation, they have behaved in a manner that suggests that they not only condone the unruly behaviour but actively promote it. We call on all union leaders to refrain from utterances which could be construed as incitement and to actively work towards creating a culture of good and responsible behavior during strike action.
We also wish to clarify the misinformation coming from some quarters suggesting that political office bearers have received salary increases in excess of 50 % as recommended by the Moseneke Commission. Nothing could be further from the truth. These recommendations are exactly that and government has not accepted them. The Presidency is communicating with the chairperson of the commission and a final decision will be communicated once a decision has been taken in this regard.
Government will continue to deploy security forces to protect innocent civilians, those who want to exercise their right not to strike, to protect private and public property, and we will not hesitate to act against those who take the law into their own hands. Our police services, supported by army personnel, are under orders to arrest all those who break the laws. The principle of 'no work, no pay' will apply as per the existing agreements with the unions. The strike by employees in essential services is illegal and those who have participated in the strike should not expect any sympathy as this is part of their conditions of service.
The meeting noted that United Nations (UN) Security Council had adopted Resolution 1718 (2006) imposing sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and approved the establishment of an Inter-Departmental Working Group to determine the most appropriate way for South Africa to implement the provisions of the UN Resolution. The Working Group will comprise of Defence, National Ttreasury, Provincial and Local Government, Transport, Intelligence, Safety and Security, Justice and Constitutional Development, Trade and Industry, Minerals and Energy, and Home Affairs, with Foreign Affairs as convenor.
Cabinet noted South Africa’s participation in the International Development Association (IDA) and the African Development Fund (IDF). The meeting noted the processes to replenish the fund and related debates on the effectiveness of aid. The meeting approved a minimum increase of South Africa’s contribution to the IDA by 30% and a minimum of 50% for the ADF.
The meeting noted that South Africa will be hosting the 46th Session of the Asian African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO) from 2 to 6 July 2007 in Cape Town, and that the African Union Commission will be holding an extra ordinary session of the Ministers of Industry from 11 to 14 September. A Ministerial Summit of the Group on Earth Observation is to be held in Cape Town from 27 to 30 November 2007.
Cabinet approved a Policy on the Secondment of Public Service Employees to multilateral organisations. This policy determines the conditions and the terms that will guide government in seconding public servants to these bodies. These public servants will undergo appropriate training prior to their secondment.
Cabinet approved the proposal for the creation of the Technology Innovation Agency which will be established by the Department of Science and Technology. The objectives of the agency will include the building of a bridge between formal knowledge base and the economy, stimulating the development of technology-based services and products; and stimulating the development of technology-based enterprises in the public and private sectors. A bill will be tabled in Parliament in this regard.
The Protocol on the Policy and Regulatory Framework for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Information and Communications Technology Broadband infrastructure network for the Eastern and Southern Africa was approved, and will be submitted to Parliament for final ratification. This protocol will, among other things, seek to harmonise national and regional policies and regulations, ensure non-discriminatory open access to the terrestrial as well as the submarine networks, facilitate African ownership and governance of the network and provide for the creation of the Special purpose vehicle that will own, develop, operate and maintain the network.
The following Bills were approved:
- Rental Housing Bill
- Social Housing Bill
- National Environment Management Amendment Bill.
The following appointments were approved:
- Ms Baby Tyawa was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DDG) of Strategy and Content in the GCIS
- Mr NS Malebye was appointed DDG Operations in the Department of Public Works
- Mr SP Yawa was appointed Regional Executive Manager in the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Eastern Cape province
- Mr GL Roberts was appointed Regional Executive Manager in the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Free State province
- Mr JG Smallburger was appointed Regional Commissioner (DDG) for the Western Cape province.
Themba Maseko - Government Spokesperson
Cell: 083 645 0810
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)
13 June 2007