The national broadcaster faces the threat of being taken to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission for broadcasting that the Independent Labour Caucus (ILC) of the public sector will refuse to sign the government’s final wage and conditions offer.
A spokesperson for one of the smaller unions in the sector, the National Union of Public Sector and Allied Workers (Nupsaw), was quoted throughout the weekend stating that the offer had been rejected. Strike action was also threatened.
“This caused great embarrassment,” said Basil Manual, chair and official spokesperson for the ILC. “We told the SABC when we first heard this broadcast on Friday night that it was untrue, and that no one from Nupsaw had the authority to speak for the ILC.”
However, this allegation continued to be broadcast and was last aired on a national news programme on Tuesday morning. According to Manuel, the SABC had simply taken the word of “a maverick looking for two minutes of fame”. The ILC has threatened a formal complaint and travelled to Johannesburg on Tuesday to demand a right of reply from the broadcaster.
Although all the unions – including one of the “big five”, the PSA – have yet to complete canvassing their members, there is every indication that the ILC, which comprises 42% of unionised workers in the sector, will agree to the government’s 7% pay offer. This is pegged to an estimated inflation rate of 4.8% plus 2.2%.
Should inflation exceed 4.8% this year, the difference will be added to the pay increase for 2016. If inflation falls below 4.8%, the difference will be deducted.
Union negotiators within the ILC, along with their counterparts in trade union federation Cosatu, agreed after a marathon meeting that extended from Friday night to Saturday morning that, with only a few more mandates from members outstanding, there appeared to be nothing in the way of a settlement.
Nupsaw, which has fewer than 30 000 members out of the more than 500 000 in the ILC, is affiliated to the smallest of the four federations, the Confederation of South African Workers’ Unions.