Support Public Sector Workers Strike demands.

 In Civil Society, Economics, Labor and Unions, South Africa

The government hasn’t raised wages for public workers in a while. They should receive a decent pay increase for their significant job. Public workers keep society running. They run home affairs, hospitals, schools, and many more. If there’s money for politicians who do nothing except fight among themselves, there must be money for workers. The truth is that if we reduce the wages of politicians and raise taxes on the rich, the government could afford to give public workers a decent wage increase.

The myth of bloated public service

One of the reasons the government used to refuse workers a meaningful wage increase was a bloated public sector. This is a lie. The headcount, or the number of workers in “core” service areas such as education, health, and criminal justice, has actually declined in the past decade compared with public demand for these services. This is a result of almost 200 000 vacancies remaining unfilled, jobs being frozen, or employees dying or quitting without being replaced. The political staff and upper levels of management in the public sector are overstaffed. The wages of the 62 ministers and deputies already cost the taxpayers R138 million annually. That doesn’t include their highly paid-support staff. For instance, the minister of human settlements pays 15 employees R10 million annually. The government must stop scapegoating workers for bloated public services or high wage bills.

Disruption of services

This strike has been brought on by the government’s failure to pay workers a decent wage increase. The government forced workers to perform their jobs in unsafe, dilapidated facilities without the necessary tools or equipment, leaving them no alternative but to go on strike. The government forced the workers to go on strike by violating its own laws (Occupational Health & Safety Act) and agreements (such as the Collective Agreement of 2018).

This strike is the fault of the government, not the workers. Workers are ensuring that the public receives a basic level of service while being on strike. Workers continue to provide emergency services in places like hospitals. If people are upset about the strike, they should blame the government, not the workers.

This strike involves everyone.

The government is not only causing problems for the public workers, it is causing problems for all workers, residents, and students. Low wages, rising costs of living, unemployment, load-shedding, water cut-off, etc. That is the reality of South Africa today.  Unity is the best response.

In addition to demanding wage increases, this strike is about defending hard-won rights such as collective bargaining. The government in the last couple of years made pay decisions without engaging the workers. This strike aims to put an end to this nonsense. If this strike is unsuccessful, the government will feel confident enough to keep making decisions without seeking input from the people, both within and outside of the public service.  Moreover, this strike is also about the need to fill vacancies in the public sector. The government is refusing to hire more individuals to fill these vacancies despite rising unemployment. Instead, as a result of austerity measures, the government wants to overwork current employees. Of course, this impairs the delivery of services. More job opportunities will be generated and many more people will find employment if this strike puts an end to this craziness.

United We win, Divided  We lose: A united fight, in our communities and workplaces, can bring gains and halt wrong policies and arrogance of this corrupt capitalist government. Standing up against the corrupt capitalist government must be the first step in building the fight against capitalism. All problems, including unemployment, low wages, corruption, and poor service delivery, are a result of capitalism

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