I am going to admit to my ignorance on a very important subject in South Africa at the moment. I figure that I have to, as I want to know what is going on, but I do not have the time to really track down relevant info. And I want to make a decent assessment of it all. As well as sit myself down on the “right” side of the fence.
So SA is on the brink of a nation-wide Public Sector Strike…
Actually, how true is this? Or is this media hype?
To sum up:
“The unions outlined six demands… These included a 12% salary increase, the filling of vacant posts and a housing allowance in line with housing costs and salaries. "Failure to meet these demands by May 31 2007 will result in indefinite labour action by all unions until the demands are met." …The memorandum condemns the state's "refusal" over a number of years to conclude minimum service-level agreements for workers deemed as essential-services workers”.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said “If 57% is good for the president, if 50% is good for the ministers, if 20% is good for the judges, then 6% is an insult to all of us”.
He has quite a good point, if you ask uninformed me.
So what I need to know is:
1. Who exactly makes up the Public Sector?
If it is nurses, policemen, teachers and those people who are severely underpaid yet maintain every citizen’s basic human rights, then I say PAY THEM MORE!!!
If it is civil servants sitting behind broken desks in deteriorating Home Affairs offices, well then, I think I am leaning more on the side of them accepting the 6% wage increase and shutting up.
2. Can the state of SA afford to increase wages by 12%?
3. Is a 6% increase sufficient or is it insulting to public sector workers?
4. I have read that the group has been broken down into four committees, under the themes of “the general public service”, “health and welfare”, “education”, and “safety and security”. Does this possibly mean that certain groups will receive different percentages? Does that not make sense?
5. Is it true that Mbeki has given himself a wage increase of over 50%?
6. If the cops, nurses & teachers aren’t part of the Public Sector, which sector are they part of?
7. How many days is this strike planned for? What will it mean for the SA economy for those several days of no public servants?
8. Have I just been mishearing or is our government apparently doing its best to keep nurses, docs, teachers etc in SA, as well as pouring tax money into a Homecoming initiative to bring back those nurses, cops, teachers etc? And also not allowing refuges who have the adequate skills to work in SA so as to ensure that SA citizens are assured these (underpaid) jobs?
9. Is one of the main reasons that such people are leaving SA, for places like New Zealand & Ireland, because they are underpaid & undervalued?
These are all rumours and snippets I have heard around the issue. I am more than slightly confused. I am nervous to ask people, as I think this is a highly subjective topic. Your views how a state should be run immediately skew your insight into this. But I ask nonetheless, as I think this is a ridiculously important debate for any state, especially one that is caught between development & developing, between socialism and capitalism.
So my intelligent, well informed readers….any words of wisdom?