THE Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the Government to stand firm against demands by public servants for salary increases well above the inflation rate.
The unions are demanding an increase of 8.5 percent against a government offer of 6.5 percent.
“We now appear to have a deadlock and the pressure is on Government to increase its offer,” said Mr Michael Bagraim, President of the Chamber. “Provision was made for salary increases in the national budget and the country simply cannot afford to exceed those budgeted increases.”
He said the priority should be to help the unemployed rather than providing unrealistically high increases for people who already had jobs.
“We can expect strikes and protests but we must remain resolute and make a firm stand against excessive demands. This is not just about public sector workers but the much bigger issue of the national budget, the allocation of resources, financial prudence and the interests of the whole country.”
Mr Bagraim pointed out that the high cost of the public service was one of the biggest factors in Europe’s financial problems. “Countries like Greece are spending more than they earn from tax revenue and much of it on their civil service and other social benefits. We don’t want to go down that road but if the Government caves in to demands for above-inflation pay rises we will be heading that way.”
He said the only valid argument for above-inflation increases was proof that productivity and the quality of work had improved, but given the service delivery protests and measurable results in fields such as education this was unlikely.