Thursday 2019-02-21

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PUBLIC SERVANTS WANT 14.4 PERCENT COLA IN BUDGET

By Mbono Mdluli | 2019-02-12

PUBLIC sector associations (PSAs) are calling for a 14.4 per cent CoLA provision in the national budget to be tabled in a fortnight.

The PSAs claim that government owes them 14.4 per cent in respect of the cost of living adjustment (CoLA) which was accumulated in the past two financial years. This was said by Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini.

Dlamini said this when making known their expectations regarding the budget that is expected to be delivered by Finance Minister Neal Rijkenberg in the next two weeks. Dlamini said the issue of CoLA must be catered for in the budget.

He said the civil servants’ salaries had not been adjusted for a very long time now. He insisted that that had eroded the buying power of the workers, amid the inflation rate that was ever increasing. The secretary general said government owed them 14.4 per cent of the salaries earned by the civil servants.

He further said the percentage owed by government in respect of CoLA was expected to increase in the 2019/2020 financial year because that would mean another year for the government.

 “We are looking at the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) to inform us on the inflation rate in April when the next financial year starts and we will be informed of the exact percentage owed to us by the government in the three years,” Dlamini said.

Dlamini further said the workers wanted nothing less than the 14.4 per cent owed to them by the government.

He stated that the minister of finance should include at least the 14.4 per cent when he delivered the budget in Parliament.

National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) President Aubrey Sibiya echoed Dlamini’s words. He said it was imperative for the government to allocate a certain amount for the civil servants’ salaries to be increased in the form of the owed CoLA. He said the civil servants had been patient for far too long now and they had to be given what was due to them because life was difficult for the workers.

The CoLA impasse between government and the civil servants started last year in July when government offered to give them zero per cent increment. The government stated that it did not have the money to implement the CoLA, hence it offered the zero per cent.

The civil servants did not accept this as a series of strikes and marches followed thereafter. In September last year, the Industrial Court stopped the PSAs who wanted to take to the streets to try and force government to give them the CoLA. Government had gone to obtain a court order to stop the workers from striking because there was no Legislature or Executive at the time.

The Industrial Court stopped the PSAs though recognising that the strike was lawful. The PSAs shifted the strike to January 28. Again, the Industrial Court stopped the strike because the matter was still before it.

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