Cape Town - Parliament has a budget deficit of R102m for compensation of its staff.
As speaker Baleka Mbete prepared to address the media on Parliament's budget on Monday, Parliament's staff used their lunch break to protest a potential 0% increases or retrenchments on the parliamentary precinct.
Mbete said that Parliament found common ground with Treasury on Parliament's funding late last year, but that will not be reflected in this year's budget. She said the "back has been broken of the difficulties experienced with treasury the past 20 years".
"We've been victims of serious cuts," she said. "But it should be better next year."
She said Parliament's budget is R2,2bn. "We've asked for R2,9bn. So, that (R2,2bn) was what we were given."
Last week parliamentary staff received a circular letter from deputy secretary of Parliament Baby Tyawa, informing staff that the salary negotiation process had started the previous month.
"Management's presentation emphasised Parliament's current poor financial situation and the reduction of budget on Compensation of Employees (CoE) by the National Treasury. The CoE allocation for 2017/18 is R785m against the current salary bill of R887m, leaving the institution with a deficit on the compensation of employees. This picture threatens the sustainability of salaries for the current employees of Parliament and needs to be addressed urgently," reads the letter.
It proposes three options, which reads as follows:
- "The maintenance of the status quo: This option will for the short-term guarantee everyone their current jobs at the same salaries. It is however not sustainable as we are already on the deficit."
- "The reduction of employment costs: This refers to the reduction of the current wage bill to be in line with fiscus allocations. In this way, the institution would be able to fund salary increases going forward."
- "Increased allocation from the fiscus: As we have no of funding other than the fiscus, additional allocations can be requested from the National Treasury. So far, the National Treasury advises everyone to live within their means, due to the unimproved economic situation of the country."
Mbete said on two occasions that she hoped 0% increases can be avoided.
Secretary of Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana said it is incorrect that Parliament has taken a position.
"We are currently engaged in negotiations to looking at means and ways of finding a solution," said Mgidlana. "We are not quite there yet, as far as I know, in finding solutions."
Mgidlala is the subject of an investigation by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, regarding a range of complaints, including his travel, use of blue lights and controversial labour-related decisions. The charges were laid by Nehawu, who represents most of Parliament's staff.
Since the start of the fifth Parliament, labour relations at the legislature has been strained, culminating in a strike in the latter part of 2015, where the police's riot squad was called in to remove striking workers from the precinct, using stun grenades.