Public Service and Administration Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, has refuted a claim made by the labour union, Public Servants Association (PSA), that it “vigorously pursued” salary increases for Senior Management Members (SMS) to be implemented.

On Thursday, the Director-General of the Department of Public Service and Administration, Yoliswa Makhasi, issued a circular advising Heads of Departments on the Cost of Leaving Adjustment (COLA) for members of the SMS in the public service.

The circular follows the determination of a non-pensionable cash allowance, and a once-off pensionable salary adjustment of 1.5% to all members of the SMS in lieu of pay progression, both with effect from 1 April 2021 by the Minister for Public Service and Administration.

According to the department, this is linked to the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) Resolution 1 of 2021, which provided for the same adjustments to officials in salary levels 1 to 12.

Dlodlo explained that unlike public servants who are on levels 1 – 12, the salary increases for SMS members, levels 13 – 16, are determined by the Minister of the Public Service and Administration, in consultation with the Minister of Finance.

“As it has been standard practice, the State, as the employer, firstly concludes wage negotiations with labour unions at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) for public servants on levels 1 – 12.

“The Public Service and Administration Minister makes a determination on the salary increases of SMS members, in liaison with the Minister of Finance.

“It is worth emphasising that labour unions do not negotiate salary increases for SMS members. What should also be taken into consideration is that SMS members have not received Cost-of-Living Adjustment for a few years and this would have a negative impact on their pensions.

“The current COLA also entails a contribution to the pension of employees. What the labour unions are entitled to do on behalf of their members, and rightfully so, is to regularly make enquiries with the Minister for the Public Service and Administration on the progress relating to salary increases of SMS members.

“As an open and transparent government, feedback is provided to the labour unions… until a determination has been made,” Dlodlo said.

However, this engagement is not tantamount to “vigorously pursuing” salary increases of SMS members to be implemented, as it is alleged by the PSA, Dlodlo said.

The Minister is empowered by the Public Service Act and relevant prescripts to make such a determination.

“The salary increases for SMS are determined within the broader scope of the public service wage bill, which, as government has stated, is growing to unsustainable levels.

“The wage bill is driven by a number of factors, including the previous above-inflation salary increases and the increase in the proportion of public servants moving into higher ranks.

“As government, the decision on salary increases for all public servants is made against the poor economic growth which has continued to exert significant pressure on public finances,” the DPSA said.

The department said compensation of employees is one of the fastest growing items of spending in budgets at both provincial and national spheres of government. This has compromised the composition of expenditure.

“Considering the imperative to improve service delivery effectiveness, there is a need to contain growth in compensation spending and to redirect funds to key areas of service delivery. Specific strategies and interventions are being implemented to manage compensation budgets in relation to other areas of spending,” the department said.

The implementation of the 2021 SMS COLA will be effected on or before 21 March 2022 to allow PERSAL to finalize the 2022 tax process, coding, capturing, validation and running the payments.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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