PRETORIA – Newly appointed Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says the public servants wage increase currently being offered by government will cost the country R30-billion and that government cannot afford anything more than that. Sisulu says any unrealistic settlement will impact negatively on pro-poor policy, especially poverty alleviation efforts and infrastructure spending. In this regard, the Minister has called on labour unions to return to the wage negotiation table, saying the matter should be dealt with amicably. Negotiations between government and the unions broke down shortly after government made its final offer. The unions declared a wage dispute. At the opening of negotiations, labour unions demanded a 10% across-the-board increase. This was later reduced to an 8% cost of living adjustment. Workers are demanding a one-year agreement, while government insists on a multiyear agreement. Government is offering a complete 9% wage increase package – made up of 6.5% in wages and salaries and 2.5% in benefits. Addressing the National Press Club in Pretoria, the Minister explained that the offer included recognition of long service, an increase in night shift allowance, a cash bonus of 10% of an employee’s salary on improvement of qualifications, as well as an increase in shop steward, family responsibility and prenatal leave.
JOHANNESBURG – Government has started the first of many engagements with the private sector to assess the solutions offered as an alternative to the e-tolling system on the upgraded Gauteng highways, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe notes. Motlanthe, who heads up the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and the related e-tolling system, began the private-sector engagement with a meeting with Business Unity South Africa (Busa). The Deputy President says that while various funding models have been examined, South Africa needs to decongest its roads. He emphasises that the ‘user pays’ system is the “most equitable way” of funding the GFIP. He adds that the engagement with the private sector should uncover the underlying cause for frustration regarding the ‘user pays’ system. He points to a number of further consultations with other organisations, including the Road Freight Association, followed by a meeting with the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa). The proposed e-tolling of Gauteng’s highways was halted earlier this year. Outa took the matter to the North Gauteng High Court, which stopped the e-tolling system from going live on April 30, pending a judicial review. Following the ruling, government approached the Constitutional Court, arguing that the decision to stop e-tolling would negatively impact on the economy. The Constitutional Court will hear arguments in August. Motlanthe argued that the Gauteng provincial government and the municipalities, in conjunction with the Department of Transport, had embarked on major rehabilitation projects on the alternative roads that would link major cities in the province.
Africa & the world
MEXICO – The leaders of the Brics nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have agreed to boost cooperation within the group of five major emerging economies. The meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Mexico, was attended by President Jacob Zuma, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. According to Brics, the G20 conference should focus on coordinating macro-economic policies, reinforcing the international community’s confidence in the global economic recovery and demonstrating the group’s spirit of cooperative partnership in jointly addressing major risks and challenges in the global economy and financing. In addition, the countries call on the G20 summit to adopt a development-orientated perspective, to pay due attention to the opinions of emerging economies and developing countries, and to guarantee their rights of and space for development. While discussing the issue of boosting funds for the International Monetary Fund, they emphasised that the G20 members have to take global economic stability and growth into account and encourage and support eurozone nations to adopt “due measures” to lift market confidence.