Johannesburg - Sentech's claims about the unaffordability of workers' wage demands are misleading, the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) said on Friday.

“The statement by Sentech management as released on July 30 seeks to mislead the public about the current state of affairs in a wage dispute prevalent between Sentech management and CWU,” the union's acting general secretary Thabo Mogalane said in a statement.

Union members wanted a 10 percent wage increase for the lowest-paid workers, nine percent for middle-income earners, and seven percent for the highest-paid staff.

They wanted a guaranteed 13th cheque in the current financial year, a housing allowance of R1450 a month, and a moratorium on retrenchments during the wage agreement period.

Sentech spokesman Sithembele Senti said on Wednesday the CWU's demands were unaffordable and would negatively affect the business's sustainability.

Mogalane said on Friday, the demand for a 13th cheque was not unreasonable because management's counter-offer of a once-off 10

percent gratuity would cost more than the bonus cheque.

He said workers made up 53 percent of the company's wage bill, and management, with 132 people, 47 percent.

“This means in simple layman's terms that the managerial structure is top heavy and bloated, as such, constitutes a threat to the sustainability of the business.”

He said the union rejected Sentech's proposal of a three-year phase-in or the 13th cheque commencing next year.

“Our period of an agreement is on a one-year basis, and not a multi-term agreement.” - Sapa