Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and public service trade unions met in Richards Bay on Friday in a bid to resolve matters related to the current wage talks.
The minister had requested a meeting with union leaders earlier in the week after unions declared a dispute.
According to a statement by Sisulu, all parties resolved that an accord would be explored where government and labour would deal with matters that impact on wage negotiations and basic principles on these would be resolved timeously.
The ministry said that parties had acknowledged that a great deal of progress had been made and that it was regrettable that on the last phase an agreement could not be found. The meeting also expressed regret that the talks ended in a dispute at "the stage when margins between the two parties narrowed so considerably that a deal was in site".
However, union leaders had expressed their dismay at the way government negotiated in bad faith and accused government of arrogance on budgeting amounts which they knew was below the CPI.
The minister emphasised the constraints that government was dealing with and urged the unions to make sure that the negotiations were not derailed.
"I am content that labour was able to express themselves freely about the current untenable situation. I am confident that a solution will be found." Sisulu said of the meeting.
She said that as a dispute had been declared, due processes would need to follow. "We need to move on this issue so that we [can] focus on other salient matters that are of mutual concern."
The ministry said that beyond the current wage dispute, the discussion on Friday was extremely productive and labour leaders had shown a great deal of sensitivity toward the complex issues facing the state and were receptive to a social accord between labour and government.
"This is a significant step forward in the ongoing talks and signals a new perspective on government's relations with labour," Sisulu said.