Municipal workers take stand before talks start

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POLOKO TAU

The latest municipal workers’ wage increase of 6,5 percent has been rejected by one of the unions even before the fourth round of negotiations get under way.

Following two weeks of consultations with their members, Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) made no secret that it was going into today’s negotiations to demand more.

Imatu, the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and the South African Local Government Association (Salga), as the employer, were expected to return to the negotiation table in Durban.

While Samwu, which is representing the majority of workers, decided not to reveal its position after consulting its members, Imatu declared yesterday that it was rejecting facilitator Yunis Shaik’s proposal.

In an attempt to break the deadlock in negotiations, Shaik put a mediator’s proposal of 6,5 percent wage increase on the table and gave the unions time to consult before negotiations resumed.

The 6,5 percent relates only to the basic wage.

Other areas that are still to be negotiated on and agreed to include, among others, the employers’ contributions to medical aid and retirement funds.

“In essence, Imatu has rejected the 6,5 percent salary increase, the multi-year agreement and the progressive reduction of employer contributions to medical aid.

“We have, however, broadly accepted the proposals regarding the rationalisation of pension fund contributions and opening up discussions to amend the Main Collective Agreement and Disciplinary Code,” said Imatu deputy general secretary Craig Adams.

Speaking from Durban, Samwu’s deputy general secretary Walter Theledi said his union was going into the negotiations with a mandate from its members but “we can’t reveal our position until we have put (forward) our demands”.

Samwu has previously indicated that Shaik’s proposal settlement of 6,5 percent was “far from the union’s mandate”, adding that it was “going to be a tough job to take the proposal back to workers”.

But Shaik’s proposal was some improvement from Salga’s initial offer of 4,5 percent, which unions said was a “below-inflation rate increase”.

Samwu was demanding an 11 percent wage increase and an improvement in the minimum wage of R4 600. Imatu dropped from 13 percent to 11,5 percent or R1 750; whichever is the greater.

Samwu and Imatu have accused Salga of negotiating in bad faith and offering “dismal” rises.

Samwu’s Theledi last week accused Salga of “antagonism” and “not negotiating in good faith”.

He cited the unions’ history with Salga saying the latter has “never come to an agreement with workers without a strike because of their antagonistic attitude”.


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