ramaphosa2City Press reports that with unions having slammed the state’s intention to renege on a three-year public sector wage agreement reached at the National Bargaining Council, a showdown is set for this week that may force President Cyril Ramaphosa’s hand.  

Labour federation Cosatu and the SA Communist Party (SACP) are set to attend the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) on Monday.  Although the initial agenda had been about determining the direction of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s new plan to slash the public sector wage bill by R160.2 billion over three years, which will entail the government reneging on the three-year deal, are now also set to be put on the table.  Also on Monday, Treasury is expected to cross swords with unions at the monthly meeting of the presidential working committee on jobs at Nedlac.  Ramaphosa has been left between a rock and a hard place: either he supports the finance minister he tasked with rescuing the country’s finances or Cosatu, which, together with the SACP, has been his most solid ally in the fractured ruling party.  Ratings agency Moody’s has already warned that the economic forecasts contained in Mboweni’s 2020 budget could be rendered uncertain by the labour movement’s reaction and expected engagements with the governing party, which could lead to Ramaphosa’s back-tracking on the proposed public wage bill reductions.  The main difference of opinion between Cosatu and the government, and a deal-breaker for Cosatu, is Treasury’s focus only on workers falling under the public services bargaining council, namely teachers, nurses and the police), not those who fall under local government and SOEs.

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