Denial of public service pay rise could see soldiers picketing


The largest military trade union in the country joined the ranks of other unions representing government employees in condemning a Labour Appeals Court ruling denying the public service its 2020/21 salary increase.

Sandu (SA National Defence Union), via its national secretary Pikkie Greeff, is “dismayed” by the legal ruling which, he adds, “in effect deprives all public servants from an annual salary increase”

“SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members were banking on the outcome of the case to receive well-deserved annual increases. Instead soldiers are disappointed, deprived and angry.

“Sandu is engaging with its structures after a flood of complaints by SANDF members asking how a country can leave its soldiers unrecognised, unappreciated and in effect insulted by ignoring their hard work and dedication.

“Sandu structures at base and unit level are being consulted as regards options open to SANDF members to force the Department of Defence (DoD) to offer increments to SANDF members.

“Sandu will also engage the DoD and seriously remind it soldiers have the right to peaceful protest and picketing,” Greeff said in a statement.

The Labour Appeal court ruled earlier this week that the final leg of the 2018 wage agreement government entered into with trade unions representing government employees at national and provincial level, was unlawful and a contradiction of the Constitution.

Uniformed national defence force personnel in all four services – air force, army, military health and navy – as well as civilian personnel, employed under the Public Service Act (PSA), are part of government’s labour force along with the myriad of other bureaucracy workers. These range from specialists such as engineers, statisticians and economists through to call centre operators and clerks dealing with the public.

The Johannesburg court ruled enforcement of the wage agreement was unlawful. This is because it contradicts sections 213 and 215 of the Constitution as government can no longer afford to pay increased salaries to South Africa’s 1,2 million government employees. This number includes around 89 000 in the SANDF and DoD.