Municipal workers take their frustrations to the Pretoria CBD streets as they protest for salary increases. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
Municipal workers take their frustrations to the Pretoria CBD streets as they protest for salary increases. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Municipal strike feared as Salga, Samwu disagree at wage talks

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Jul 8, 2021

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Cape Town - There are fears of a municipal workers’ strike, following the failure to agree during wage negotiations, between the South African Local Government Association (Salga) and the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu).

Samwu said it had already polled 80% of its members and the majority were in favour of a strike.

Salga has, meanwhile, filed dispute papers in terms of section 74 of the Labour Relations Act, following the stalemate at the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC).

Salga spokesperson Sivuyile Mbambato said the negotiations ended abruptly when the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) said it had no interest in continuing with the negotiations, and intended to declare a dispute and request for a strike certificate.

Samwu is demanding a one-year wage deal, which will include a R4 000 per month salary increase for all workers falling under the SALGBC, a R3 500 monthly housing allowance, and an 80% employer contribution towards medical aid insurance.

Salga countered with a three-year wage agreement which included a four percent salary increase in the first year and for the sectoral minimum wage to rise in line with its salary increase proposal.

Mbambato said: “In these circumstances, the dispute can only be resolved through interest arbitration, as opposed to strike action. We, however, wish to assure the public that this course of action will maintain labour peace and stability, and ensure that service delivery is not interrupted.”

Meanwhile, Cape Town is one of the few municipalities in South Africa who informed Salga early on that it had not budgeted for salary increases in the 2021/22 financial year.

Mayor Dan Plato

In his budget speech in May, Mayor Dan Plato had promised there would be “zero percent cost of living increase in the salaries and wages provision, in the 2021/22 financial year.”

On Wednesday Plato said the City’s stance remains unchanged, given the tough economic times and the dire state of the national economy, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

“Increases are simply unaffordable, and there will be no performance bonuses for senior staff (task grade 14 and above) and management.

“Since 2010, the City’s population has increased by about one million people, each requiring additional services,” said Plato.

Salga represents municipalities at the South African Local Government Bargaining Council, and the City’s role in the negotiations and final wage determination is limited.

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