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17 September 2020

Hospersa, which represents more than 50 000 public service employees [predominately health workers] has started rallying its members to embark on industrial action next month, following government’s failure to implement clause 3.3 of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) Resolution 1 of 2018 which talks to public servants wage increases for 2020/21.  Talks at the PSCBC have now broken down with government making a u-turn in recognising the 2018 signed agreement and labelling the last leg of its enforcement unconstitutional. Hospersa has vowed to fight for its members’ rights who stood at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing the public healthcare system on its knees until government implements the public service employees salary increases as per the signed PSCBC agreement.

In February 2020, a day before the Minister of Finance [Mr Tito Mboweni] delivered his budget vote, government made a presentation to labour organisation at the PSCBC regarding the public wage bill.  At the crux of the presentation, government put forward a request for parties to review clause 3.3 of the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018 which talks to public service employees salary adjustment for period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, effective from 1 April 2020 as follows:

  • Level 1 to 7: Projected CPI + 1.0%
  • Level 8 to 10: Projected CPI + 0.5%; and
  • Level 11 to 12: Projected CPI

Hospersa rejected this proposal and criticised government for its failure to plan for the 2020/21 salary adjustment as per the 2018 signed agreement.

Fast forward to September 2020, government has still not implemented the agreement citing lack of funds due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Furthermore, government has now launched an application at the labour court asking it to declare the enforcement of the wage agreement unconstitutional.  Hospersa has taken exception to this latest move and has now started rallying its members, made up of predominately health workers, to embark on a national strike from next month until government abides by the terms of the signed agreement.  The union has vowed to bring public health care services to a resounding halt and will join forces with other public sector unions in making their voices heard.

“Hospersa has started mobilising its members in preparation for a national strike,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.  “Our members have been very patient with their employer since 1 April 2020 when their salary increases should have been implemented.  Majority of our members are health workers who put their lives on the line during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic without any recognition from their employer.  Not implementing their duly deserved salary increases is a slap in their face and we cannot turn the other cheek,” added Desfontaines.

“What is even more alarming is government’s failure to deal with the corruption and maladministration which led to corrupt tender dealings of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the squandering of the allocated COVID-19 relief funds,” said Desfontaines.  “To date, no one has been formerly charged for the looting of state funds which took place during the country’s lockdown.  In fact, instead of recovering the looted funds from perpetrators, government pleads poverty and spits at the effort made by our members at the peak of the pandemic where they worked without sufficient PPE, lack of support and watched some of their colleague lose their lives at the hands of COVID-19 ,” argued Desfontaines.

“The World Health Organisation has labelled PPE corruption as criminal and akin to murder due to the unnecessary death of health workers who contracted COVID-19 at their workplaces when sufficient PPE was not provided,” said Desfontaines.  “Hospersa supports this statement and calls for the harshest punishment for those that stole from the public purse during the pandemic as their actions contributed to the loss of many lives.  Furthermore, we do not expect another marathon commission which will cost tax payers millions of rands while perpetrators roam free with blood on their hands,” added Desfontaines.

The delayed implementation of the 2020/21 salary increases  for public service employees is also likely to delay salary negotiations for 2021/22.  Unions at the PSCBC are due to submit their demands while there is a hanging cloud on the current agreement.  Hospersa has highlighted that it will submit its demands as mandated by its members and will look at protecting its members’ pension fund from being abused by government under the disguise of rescuing corrupt state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

“Hospersa aims to submit its 2021/22 increase demands on time to allow parties to deliberate before next year’s budget vote in February 2021,” said Desfontaines.  “Over and above the salary increase demands, we will also look at proposing that government employees be allowed to access a percentage of their savings in the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) for those who may need financial relief.  We will also voice out against any proposals which looks at abusing our members’ pension fund to bail out corrupt-ridden SOEs”, added Desfontaines.

“Last night, President Ramaphosa urged the country to do the Jerusalema dance challenge on Heritage day and failed to recognise that health workers around the country have been doing this challenge since the beginning of the lockdown,” said Desfontaines.  “This is synonymous to the fact that health workers have remained unappreciated even when victory against the pandemic is within touching distance.  Hospersa urges its members to not participate further in this public relations exercise and instead prepare their marching shoes as we mobilise for a national shutdown in the public sector,” concluded Desfontaines.


Total words (excluding heading):  912

For interviews please contact Hospersa Public Relations Officer Kevin Halama – 060-546-8166.

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