After having lost its bid to have the Labour Appeal Court force government to pay wage increases for 2020, the Public Servants Association (PSA) will now take the battle to the Constitutional Court.
Last year government reneged on the final year of a three-year wage agreement, which led to the legal challenge by the PSA and other unions.
Government intends to slash the compensation budget by R160 billion over the next three years, as part of a fiscal consolidation plan to avoid a sovereign debt crisis. Implementing the wage increases for 2020 would have required it to pay up some R37 billion.
The Labour Appeal Court found in favour with government that the agreement was not valid. Unions however had said the ruling would have implications for future collective bargaining agreements.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the PSA, which represents some 240 000 public sector employees, said it instructed its legal team to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
“The PSA is not satisfied with the judgment as it has severe repercussions for the future of collective bargaining in the country. The State must be held accountable for signing an agreement that it had no intention of implementing,” the union said.
According to the PSA, rising costs of food, fuel, transport, medical aid and other living expenses as well as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were weighing on public servants who had been delivering critical services” throughout the pandemic.
“Merely paying lip service and complimenting front-line workers is simply not enough to financially assist public servants who were due to receive salary increases in April 2020.”
The union will file its papers with the Constitutional Court on 29 January.
It also wants public service salary negotiations for the 2021/22 financial year to commence.