The Public Servants Association of South Africa said on Thursday said it has taken the government’s plans to cut the civil service wage bill as a “declaration of war” on its members.SAPSA said this in reaction to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech in parliament on Wednesday in which he said the government plans to reduce the civil service wage bill US$11.4 billion over the next three years in a bid to reduce South Africa’s budget deficit and shore up the struggling economy.
Slamming the minister’s proposal, the union demanded that the matter be taken immediately to the Public Sector Coordinating Bargaining Council for discussions.
Mboweni said the government wanted to decrease its wage bill over the medium term as part of its efforts to lower spending and narrow a budget deficit projected at 6.8 percent of gross domestic product for the 2020/21 financial year.
However, the SAPSA said it failed to understand what it called the “continued attack on public servants’ salaries as a key focus to save the South African economy.”
“The SAPSA cautions the minister and government that efforts aimed at minimising state expenditure should not come at the expense of those public servants who render services under enormous challenges,” it said.
It added: “The morale of public servants is dented and any unilateral actions by government in this regard are guaranteed to have dire consequences.”
The union, however, applauded the government’s decision not to increase personal taxes as many had feared prior to Mboweni’s budget speech in Cape Town.