OSD negotiations will be completed within target

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cape Town - Government is confident that negotiations regarding the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) for public servants will be concluded on Tuesday.

Minister of Public Service and Administration, Richard Baloyi, speaking on Monday ahead of his Budget Vote in Parliament, said that the 30 June deadline was not negotiable and would not be extended.

"We set ourselves a target that by tomorrow, the 30th of June, we have concluded all negotiations related to OSD. We are not expecting anything after 30 June relating to OSD," said the minister.

Over the past few months public servants, including teachers, social workers and doctors working at state hospitals have gone on strike regarding the late implementation of the salary structure, despite it being approved last year.

Last week, government tabled a revised offer to striking doctors at the Public Service Bargaining Council.

The proposed new salary, expected to cost around R1 billion and will be implemented as of 1 July if approved by the South African Medical Association, could see some doctors receiving a salary increment of up to 60 percent.

Minister Baloyi said that during his Budget Vote on Tuesday he would be sharing with the nation as to "how do we move forward" with regards to the implementation of the OSD.

He said talks would be wrapped up because they were not only affecting employees, but families, as well as the nation.

"We don't want to see a prolonged period of negotiation. Anyone who is party to these negotiations should know that they are either ready or not."

The minister said that while many jumped to the conclusion that periods of negotiation were a time of "antagonistic engagements" government was convinced that it had put together plans to ensure a smooth process.

He further said that while there were still a few issues that needed to be ironed out at the Public Service Bargaining Council, government was moving with speed to finalise matters.

"I'm confident we will be able to resolve a number of those issues. We are going to try and move with speed."

When asked whether this was achievable as the state doctor's strike had on Monday spread to the Western Cape from KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, the minister said that the deadline had been agreed by all parties involved in the negotiations, including labour.

He said set targets could not keep shifting.

"The deadline is not negotiable; we are not going to extend it. Come tomorrow, negations are closed. We are confident that tomorrow when we table our budget we'll be able to give a progress report."

He commended the negotiators who had been working around the clock to finalise engagements.