Durban — Independent economist, Professor Bonke Dumisa, has called the trade unions in South Africa selfish and irresponsible amid the strike action set to take place on Tuesday.
Public Service Unions under Cosatu, Fedusa and Saftu, announced last week that there would be a National Day of Action on Tuesday.
Moreover, they said all aggrieved public servants must down tools and take to the streets to demand the salary increase. The unions demanded a 10% wage increase, but the government said it could only afford 3%.
Dumisa told broadcaster eNCA that the public service had a budget of R660 billion for this financial year. He added that the revenue budget was at R1.2 trillion and the expenditure budget for the year was at R1.5 trillion.
This meant that the 1.2 million public servants who formed less than 10% of SA’s public expense, were commanding over 33% of the country’s expenditure.
“We are struggling with the Eskom thing and money is required to try and solve it. So when public servants say they don’t care about all the things, they want their money, that is selfish and irresponsible,” said Dumisa.
This also meant the unions didn’t care about the public interest, he said, because “where will the government get all the money from – should it go and borrow more money?”
Moreover, he reminded public servants that throughout the pandemic they got their salaries and bonuses.
“When private sector people lost their jobs, or some were asked to take pay cuts, public servants were not affected at all.
“They were paid in full, including their bonuses. It is not like the government isn’t taking care of the public servants; in fact, they have been privileged,” he said.
Dumisa said the issue of the rising costs of living was not uniquely a SA thing. He said the inflation rate had gone up in other countries.
“South Africa has no money,” he said.
Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA) president Lufuno Mulaudzi said the fact that their employer said there was no money in the fiscus was because politicians were looting it every day and there was no accountability. He said the public servants could not be blamed for this.
“Why do we say there is no money when the government is able to bail out SAA and Eskom?” he asked.
He said if the government was responsible it would cut the size of the Cabinet in order to be able to meet other priorities.
Meanwhile, Denosa president Simon Hlungwani vowed that the strike would go ahead. He said with the rapidly increased cost of living, the government wanted public servants to be at peace with getting less than inflation increases. He said this cannot stand unchallenged.
“Our consolidated demands include the R2 500 allowance to be paid to all public servants, regardless of whether they own or do not have a bonded house. Bursary schemes for the children of public servants excluded because they are considered too rich to get NSFAS funding must also be paid. (These) parents are too poor to afford tuition fees and living expenses.”
In KwaZulu-Natal workers are expected to meet at King Dinuzulu Park in Durban at 8am.