Cape Town – University of Cape Town students wanting the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue are uniting not only on campus, but also on social media.
The seven public sector unions affiliated to Cosatu will meet on Monday to discuss the way forward.
The deputy general secretary of the major nursing union, Denosa, Khaya Sodidi, said: "All of us across the board are united."
Like other union negotiators he expressed surprise and disappointment at the way in which the government had conducted the wage talks.
The unions are particularly annoyed that, having made an initial pay offer of 5.8%, government negotiators lowered this to 4.8%.
“They did so on a technicality,” said Leon Gilbert, chief negotiator for the independent PSA union. “They say that Treasury has projected that inflation will be 4.8% for the coming year and that pay must be geared to that.”
However, given the fuel price rise on Wednesday, the increase in electricity tariffs and further fuel increases in the pipeline, the unions maintain that inflation (CPI) will be significantly higher than the treasury projection. And while the government is also insisting on a three-year deal, the unions have put forward a united proposal for a one-year agreement.
Basil Manuel of teachers' union Naptosa said: "The government proposals so far have been very airy fairy and disrespectful.”
According to Sodidi, the government negotiators have, in effect, undermined “the whole bargaining process”.
Several of the unions involved, including Denosa, resolved at the weekend to “seek a mandate” from their members for the way forward.
In the meantime, the government having declared a dispute, has two weeks in which to apply for conciliation. Should this fail, it could lead to either a strike or a lock-out.
However, even though official talks are stalled, contacts will be maintained between the parties.
A Cosatu union negotiator said: “But this time the government is playing a very dangerous game, walking along a precipice.”
According to Gilbert, the unions simply do not understand the government position. “What do they hope to achieve (in the way they have behaved)?” he asked on Sunday.