The South African Federation of Trade Unions has questioned the value added by public office-bearers, accusing many of bringing state entities to their knees.
LABOUR unions have criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to approve a 3% salary increase for office-bearers who include the deputy president, ministers, premiers and members of executive councils.
Others who will receive the pay hike include MPs, MPLs, traditional leaders and judges as well as those at independent constitutional institutions such as the offices of the Public Protector, Auditor-General and Electoral Commission of SA, among others.
Unions labelled the move, which was published in the Government Gazette last week, as an insult to public servants.
The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) on Monday criticised the increases, saying the move demonstrated a callous attitude of the president.
The union contended that public office-bearers had not done anything to deserve the increases.
Saftu charged that the increases for public office-bearers in provincial government and the national executive (Cabinet) were tantamount to rewarding people for bungling state funds through their incompetence, mismanagement, maladministration and corruption in the government departments and municipalities.
“We are rewarding people for collapsing public institutions, running the public services to the ground and denying our people basic services. In the context of the zero percent being offered for the public servants, Saftu views the approval of the 3% salary increases for the public office-bearers as a callous act,” Saftu spokesperson Trevor Shaku said.
Saftu added that public office-bearers’ expenses on housing, travel and telecommunications were also covered in full or in part by allowances from the government.
“They are even entitled to personal protection units/personnel whose bill is footed by the government. This means crime which is exacerbated by their neoliberal policy choices is exclusively preserved for the ordinary people as public office-bearers are entitled to extra security services from the protection units/personnel,” Shaku continued.
According to the union, many public servants were on low remuneration notches, with minor housing allowances of between R900 and R1,200, and their salaries were frozen in 2020.
Shaku said that the government’s decision demonstrated its indifference to the plight of workers.