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The City of Cape Town fails to dodge wage increases for municipal workers

Municipal workers are removing a massive tree blocking Dirkie Uys road in Goodwood. File picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency

Municipal workers are removing a massive tree blocking Dirkie Uys road in Goodwood. File picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency

Published Nov 17, 2021

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town’s attempt to not pay its municipal workers a wage increase has failed after the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) dismissed an application by the City to be exempted from implementing recent government salary wage hikes.

The City wanted to be exempt from the increase, which has been effected from July 1 in a deal that means of municipal workers’ salaries will rise by 3.5% in this financial year backdated to July 1.

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The agreement, which also includes subsequent cash payments of R4 000 for workers earning R12 500 or less per month, and R3 000 for employees earning R12 501 or more, will be valid until 2023.

Responding to queries about its next move, City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said: “The City is studying the panel’s outcome.”

The City had earlier in the year argued that salary increases were neither justifiable nor affordable in the current economic climate.

Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) regional manager Western Cape/Cape Metro Etienne Bruwer said: “We are delighted that the City’s application for exemption has failed.

“The arbitrator ruled as per Imatu’s arguments that the City could not succeed in proving that it cannot afford the implementation of the increase.

“The City of Cape Town is now compelled to implement the full salary and wage agreement,” Bruwer said.

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SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) regional secretary Mike Khumalo said the bargaining council’s decision was a massive victory for its members.

“We welcome the ruling and hope that others will learn from it. It’s not about winning or losing, but about coming to a middle ground.

“The decision by the arbitrator to decline the City’s application is a huge victory for the 30 000 workers who are in the employ of the City of Cape Town.

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“Workers in the City have been subjected to the ruthlessness of an employer that sought to define itself outside of the employer body, the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (Salga),” Khumalo said.

He said he hoped other municipalities would learn from this decision.

Salga, which represents 257 municipalities, negotiated the agreement with Samwu and Imatu. The parties spent five months in protracted municipal wage negotiations at the SALGBC.

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