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Unions upbeat about wage deal

The last round of wage talks between two major municipal workers’ unions and the SA Local Government Association (Salga) ended on a positive note on Thursday, with a 6.5 percent wage increase proposal on the table.

The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) and the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) will discuss the proposal with their members before making a decision.

Facilitator Yunis Shaik had proposed a wage increase of 6.5 percent from July 1, with 0.5 percent being added to municipal salaries from January 1 next year.

For the three-year agreement, Shaik proposed a Consumer Price Index (CPI) average plus 1.25 percent for 2013/14 and CPI plus 1 percent in 2014/15.

Samwu’s general secretary, Mthandeki Nhlapo, described the negotiations as “very positive”. He said details of the proposal were still being presented to members.

“It’s the first time that parties negotiated throughout without going on strike,” he said.

Imatu general secretary Johan Koen believed that the unions had received a “good deal”. Koen said the unions “can’t have outrageous demands” because the municipalities had indicated that they were cash-strapped.

Both unions on Thursday also claimed victory, saying that the Labour Court had ruled in their favour on the disputed wage curve collective agreement. The wage curve regulates the salary structure for all municipal employees. Unions had called for employers to finalise the issue of job evaluation since 2010. The unions and Salga have not received the written judgment.

Koen said the unions wanted a uniform pay structure, but it would take time before the wage curve was implemented because the municipalities would have to evaluate employees’ grading.

Nhlapo said the wage gap between section 57 managers (deputy city managers) and other employees was wide.

Zwe Ndlala, director of human capital at Salga, would not be drawn on whether Salga would appeal against the court’s decision. - The Mercury

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