April 19, 2018 / 3:52 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's public servants union in wage dispute with govt

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CAPE TOWN, April 19 (Reuters) - South Africa’s Public Servants Association (PSA) declared a dispute with government after protracted wage hike talks stalled on Thursday, moving a step closer to a strike, a senior PSA official said on Thursday.

The PSA, a union that represents more than 230,000 public sector workers, wants an above inflation increase of 12 percent across the board as Africa’s most industrialised economy shows signs of recovering from a recession.

It was not immediately clear what the government was offering the civil servants, although National Treasury has flagged that double digit increases was unaffordable as South Africa struggled to boost economic growth.

“We have no other alternative but to declare a dispute and so we are busy filing the papers now. This is one step closer to a strike,” said Tahir Maepa, deputy general manager at the PSA.

The dispute meant that if conciliation talks between the parties mediated by the Public Service Co-Ordinating Bargaining Council failed to break the impasse within 30 days, a strike could potentially go ahead, said Maepa.

He told Reuters that a snap poll taken among their members found that 83 percent felt a strike was “the only option”.

The lead negotiator for labour federation Cosatu, which has large unions representing nurses, teachers and police, was not available to comment if they would follow suit.

South Africa’s inflation slowed to 3.8 percent in March, its lowest rate in seven years, as food prices fell. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf Editing by James Macharia)

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