Declaration of a Dispute in the PSCBC
09 November 2015
COSATU public service unions are infuriated by government’s failure to implement the current agreement on Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS) that was signed in May 2015. The agreement amongst other issues states that, the housing allowance for all qualifying employees will be increased from R900.00 to R1200.00 for those who are paying housing loans and those who have dwellings in the rural areas. The provision of R1200.00 was supposed to be implemented in July 2015 but three months have passed without any action from the employer.
When it was not implemented at the end of July, we convened several meetings at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) with the employer to discuss the non-implementation of this agreement.
We were first told that the employer is waiting for the database of all qualifying employees. After the tragic passing away of the then Minister of Public Service and Administration, Mr Collins Chabane, they told us that they were waiting for the appointment of a new Minister.
The new Minister, Mr Ngoako Ramathlodi, was duly appointed and we were informed that the employer representatives needed to brief the new Minister first. We were told that the circular instructing Persal to pay the money over to employees was already submitted to the office of the minister for a signature.
But lately we are told that the minster will first convene an Inter-Ministerial Committee to deal with this matter. Frustrated by this bureaucratic merry-go-round and lack of urgency from the employer, we then declared a dispute at the PSCBC, which was filed on the 4th of November 2015. We are currently waiting for the PSCBC to set matter down for dispute resolution processes as per the constitution of the PSCBC.
Our members have clearly expressed their level of frustration with regards to these unnecessary delays in processing the Government Employee Housing Scheme (GEHS).
Before this latest saga, we had undue delays by the Technical Task Team that led to the parties at the PSCBC agreeing that all negotiations on GEHS, needed to happen at the level of the council and also necessitated the convening of special council meetings for this purpose.
We have, on numerous occasions, met with the employer representatives including ministers to try and impress upon them the need to conclude this long overdue matter. Their failure to finalise this issue as a matter of priority is pushing the workers towards a breaking point.
The declaration of a dispute represents the first step towards the escalation of a conflict between workers and the employer over this matter. We will await the conclusion of the dispute process.
COSATU Public Service Unions