The 1999 public service wage dispute and strike

Orlandi, Nelia (2000-12)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Some digitised pages may appear cut off due to the condition of the original hard copy.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This assignment explores the issues surrounding conflict resolution in the South African Public Service and the expression of organised conflict with reference to the 1999 Public service wage dispute and strikes. The public service being part of the generic framework of the public sector is, in terms of employment, South Africa's single, largest employer. National Departments and Provinces reflect almost 70% of the Public Sector. Employment in the public sector used to be considered relatively stable and secure. Public sector employees were thus not seen as requiring protection from retrenchment. Employees had no bargaining rights and functioned outside the ambit of the Labour Relations Act (No 24 of 1956). In 1994, the Government of National Unity realized the importance of the South African public service, the major role it had to play in the reconciliation, reconstruction and development process in South Africa and thus the need for administrative transformation. The Public Service Labour Relations Act 1994 was replaced by the new Labour Relations Act (No 66 of 1995) in 1995. This Act now covers both the private and the public sector workers. The new legislation was an important step towards the creation of a machinery for collective bargaining. The Act made provision for the establishment of a Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council and provided a model for collective bargaining, based on effective negotiating structures. According to the International Labour Organization, mediation and conciliation procedures are still the most frequent methods for settling economic disputes in the public service. In South Africa, the new Labour Relations Act introduced the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. Since 1994, several problems have beset most public service workers because of the transformation process and workers started showing increasing interest in unionisation, mostly for the protection and the fulfillment of their needs. Wages were the single most important factor causing labour action and in 1999, a total of 3,1 million man-days were lost due to labour action. According to Ms Geraldine Fraser- Moleketi, minister of the Public Service and Administration, government and the unions should share the process to design a more suitable and manageable system of remuneration policy to prevent disputes such as the 1999 wage dispute in the future. The negotiations on the 1999 wage dispute took place over a record of 140 days. Public service unions rejected government's wage offers several times until the minister unilaterally implemented government's final offer of an average of 6,3% increase. This sent a tremor through the alliance and prompted joint action by Cosatu and Fedusa affiliated unions. Unions were caught completely unaware and dropped their demands from a 10% increase to 7,3%. Public servants took industrial action again, but the government still did not make a new offer. Minister Trevor Manuel warned that the government could not afford further increases. By September, union leaders still had faith that president Thabo Mbeki would indicate that talks would be resumed, but doors for future negotiations did not open. Ms Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi maintained that the government had gone out of its way to ensure a settlement. At the time of writing, the dispute is still continuing. Note: As most of the information regarding the Public Service Wage strike was obtained from the press, all articles referred to are included as an appendix. To facilitate the reference to these articles, a specific form of reference, namely 'PC n', was used in the relevant sections, the prefix 'PC' denoting that a press cutting has been referred to and the subscription 'n' denoting the relevant page number of the article contained in the appendix. The sources of the press cuttings (PC) are contained in the list of sources.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie werkstuk ondersoek die aangeleenthede rondom konflik hantering in die Suid-Afrikaanse Staatsdiens en die uitdrukking van georganiseerde konflik met verwysing na die 1999 Staatsdiens Salaris Dispuut en Stakings. In terme van indiensneming is die staatsdiens in Suid-Afrika as deel van die publieke sektor die grootste enkel werkgewer. Nasionale Departemente en Provinsies reflekteer ongeveer 70% van die Publieke Sektor. Arbeid in die publieke sektor was voorheen redelik stabiel en verseker; dus was daar geen nut vir die beskerming van amptenare teen afdanking. Werkers het geen onderhandelingsregte gehad nie en het buite die raamwerk van die Arbeidswetgewing (No 24 of 1956) gefunksioneer. In 1994 het die nuwe regering van nasionale eenheid die belangrikheid van staatsamptenare en die rol wat hulle moet speel in die rekonstruksie en ontwikkelingsproses in Suid-Afrika besef en dus ook die behoefte vir transformering van die diens ingesien. Die Staatsdiens Arbeidswetgewing van 1994 is vervang deur die nuwe Arbeidswetgewing (No 66 van 1995) in 1995, wat beide staatsamptenare sowel as die privaatsektor insluit. Dit was ook 'n belangrike stap in die bevordering van kollektiewe bedinging. Die wet het voorsiening gemaak vir die vestiging van die Staatsdiens Koordinerings Bedingings Raad en 'n model vir kollektiewe bedinging, gebasseer op effektiewe onderhandelingsstrukture. Volgens die Internasionale Arbeidsorganisasie is mediasie en konsiliasie prosesse steeds die mees algemene metodes vir die hantering van ekonomiese dispute in die staatsdiens. In Suid-Afrika het die nuwe Arbeids Wetgewing voorsiening gemaak vir die instelling van die Kommissie vir Konsiliasie, Mediasie en Arbitrasie. Sedert 1994 het verskeie probleme vir staatsamptenare ontstaan as gevolg van die transformasie proses en amptenare het meer en meer belangstelling getoon in unie lidmaatskap om hulle belange te beskerm. Salarisse is dié belangrikste enkel faktor wat arbeidsonrus veroorsaak. In 1999 het daar 'n totaal van 3,1 miljoen werksdae verlore gegaan as gevolg van stakings. Die 1999 salaris dispuut en onderhandelings het oor 'n tydperk van 'n rekord getal, naamlik 140 dae, geduur. Unies wat staatsamptenare verteenwoordig het op verskeie geleenthede aanbiedinge van die regering van die hand gewys, totdat die minister 'n eenparige besluit geneem het om die finale aanbod van 6,3% salarisaanpassing in te stel. Dit het 'n skudding in die alliansies veroorsaak en het tot die gesamentlike aksie van Cosatu en Fedusa geaffillieerde unies gelei. Die unies is onkant betrap en het hul versoek van 'n 10% verhoging na 7,3% verminder. Staatsamptenare het weereens oorgegaan tot arbeidsaksie; terwyl die regering by hul finale aanbod gebly het. Minister Trevor Manuel het gewaarsku dat die regering nie meer kon bekostig nie. Teen September was vakbondleiers nog steeds hoopvol dat president Thabo Mbeki 'n aanduiding sou gee om met onderhandelings voort te gaan, maar die deure vir onderhandelings was gesluit. Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi het volgehou dat die regering uit hul pad gegaan het om 'n ooreenkoms te bereik. Ten tye van skrywe was die geskil nog nie opgelos nie. Nota: As gevolg van die feit dat die meeste inligting aangaande die 1999 Staatsdiens Salaris Dispuut en Stakings uit die pers verkry is, word die artikels waarna verwys word, ingesluit as 'n bylae. Om die verwysing na hierdie artikels te vergemaklik, is 'n spesifieke formaat van verwysing gebruik, naamlik 'PC n'. In hierdie verwysing verwys die voorskrif 'PC' na 'n media artikel. Die letter 'n' verwys na die relevante bladsy nommer wat aan die artikel toegeken is. Die bronne van die persartikels verskyn in die bronnelys.

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