COSATU slams ‘provocative’ budget for dumping ‘looting’ bill on public servants

COSATU leaders with President Cyril Ramaphosa. Image credit: Twitter/COSATU

Labour federation COSATU has expressed its “extreme disappointment” with the 2020/2021 budget presented by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in Parliament on Wednesday.

COSATU is particularly unhappy with the budget’s proposal to reduce compensation budgets of national and provincial departments as well as entities that receive transfers directly from national government.

According to the proposal, the reductions in the wage bill would amount to
R37.8 billion in the 2020/2021 financial year, R54.9 billion in 2021/2022 and R67.5 billion in 2022/2023.

‘Battle lines are drawn’

However, in a statement shortly after the budget, the federation said the proposal “is an attempt to dump the bill for industrial-scale looting on public servants.”

“This feeble and inflammatory budget is a clear message to workers that the battle lines are drawn and the attempts to shift the burden of the crisis to them is in full swing.”

In his budget speech, Mboweni said the government has tabled the proposal at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council.

COSATU however said the government’s continuous “attacks” on “underpaid and overworked” public servants are “silly and tiresome.”

Fixation with wage bill ‘nonsensical’

It added, “These public servants support on average seven unemployed extended family members.

“The fixation with the wage bill is nonsensical when considering the fact that it has been stable for the past 10 years at 35% of the government consolidated expenditure, in line with international standards.”

The federation nevertheless said it was ready to engage with the government on measures to stabilise the public fiscus.

It said these measures should include “reducing bloated executive and management posts and perks; placing public sector entities and enterprises under a single public service and sector collective bargaining process; and eradicating ghost posts.”

COSATU said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to freeze ministers’ salaries is not enough, adding that politicians “must lose their exorbitant salaries and perks.”

Despite Ramaphosa holding a meeting with COSATU’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) on Monday, the budget’s proposals appear to have taken the labour federation by surprise.

The Public Servants Association of SA has also voiced strong opposition to the government’s attempt to renegotiate 2018 wage agreements.

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