The South African Reward Association (SARA) has welcomed President Zuma’s decision to accept the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers’ recommendation that top public officials receive no salary increase this year. Among those that are affected are members of the national executive, members of Parliament, provincial executives and mayors.
“The Commission made a bold move in recommending a general wage freeze of South Africa Inc’s top executives, and the President has to be commended for acceding,” says Dr Mark Bussin, Executive Committee Member at SARA, former member of the Commission and Chairperson of 21st Century. “This is a great example of nation-building because it sends a very direct message that those that govern us do not exist in a golden bubble, and that we are all in this together. It also sends a very powerful signal to trade unions and public servants, and will set the tone for the next round of wage negotiations.”
Dr Bussin adds that the fact that the President and other top public office bearers have accepted a wage freeze should also be taken very seriously by big business. The massive salaries paid to top executives and the gap between them and the lower ranks of employees has been a source of widespread dissatisfaction both in South Africa and globally.
He points out that this is the third time that President Zuma has accepted a pay freeze for himself, but the first time that the freeze has been recommended to cover all the top public office bearers.
“The government is leading from the front on this issue, and leaders in both the public and private sectors are now under pressure to follow its lead,” Dr Bussin concludes. “We are a very unequal society, and the fact that the economy is not growing is making this disparity even worse and ratcheting up social tensions. Those who lead the country and society need to exercise restraint, and this is an excellent foundation for rebuilding social trust and cohesion.”
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