SA’s R587bn public-sector wage bill had shot through the ceiling and the government would have to cut back on critical services if it failed to rein in pay increases, Public Services and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said on Tuesday.

Salaries for public servants have been growing at rates higher than inflation and consumed 35% of expenditure in 2017, up from 32.9% in 2007. In 2018, public servants are set to receive above-inflation wage increases of between 6% and 7%.

Although public-sector unions are yet to sign the agreement, the government can implement it unilaterally after 30 days. The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union was the only union to sign the draft agreement on Monday. Four other unions rejected the proposed agreement, while five are still consulting their members for mandates. The government had budgeted 7.3% for wage hikes.

Business Day