Samwu slams Salga over wage negotiations
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Johannesburg - The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has slammed the South African Local Government Association’s (Salga) for its hard stance which it says threatens to collapse municipal salary negotiations.
On Friday, Salga said that there had been “meaningful progress” made in the effort to have a collective agreement for the 2021 salary and wage negotiations at the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC).
However, Samwu has come out strongly rejecting Salga’s stance that the association had drawn a line in the sand for the unions from the first day of the negotiations.
“Throughout the negotiations, Samwu has continued to negotiate in good faith, while the employer had sought to turn these negotiations to collective begging. They want labour to literally beg for decent increases.
“To make matters worse, from the first day of negotiations, Salga drew a line on the sand for us, indicating that there are certain issues which they are not willing to compromise. Page 2 of 4 Salga indicated clearly to labour that they would only offer an increase that is below inflation and that worker’s benefits would be frozen,” said Samwu Deputy General Secretary Dumisane Magagula.
Magagula said, that at their recent Samwu Special National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, they had received and consolidated reports from provinces on the last offer of 1.5% salary increases made by Salga at the bargaining council.
“Workers totally rejected the offer that was made by Salga. In fact, workers felt insulted and ridiculed by their employer whom they have diligently served and ensured the continuity of service delivery.
“These are the same workers who responded to the call made by the government to ensure that during the pandemic, crucial municipal services are delivered amid the pandemic. As Samwu, we can place it on record, that in this round of negotiations, there has been no movement from the employer that seeks to address the core issue of these negotiations, being a salary increase for the country’s municipal workers,” Magagula said.
He added that it was for this reason that Samwu had on the last day of the negotiations requested the facilitator of the process to issue her proposal based on parties’ demands. “The Page 3 of 4 facilitator’s proposal is supposed to form the basis for an agreement in the SALGBC. We are therefore taken aback by Salga’s statement that there are ‘major strides made in municipal negotiations,” Magagula said.
He further stated that because Salga continued to draw a line in the sand at the negotiations, insisting on a below-inflation increase and a total freeze on workers benefits, this was an indication that the parties in the bargaining council had not come to a meeting of the minds, and were therefore far from reaching a suitable agreement on the matters of contention.
Magagula said that for Salga to even suggest, as they did in their statement, that the facilitator’s proposal “may lead into an agreement” was misleading, self-serving and sought to create an impression that they were agreeing as parties, whereas this was not the case, given the intransigence of the employer.
“We place on record that should the facilitator’s proposal, which is expected to be issued to parties on Monday, 7 June, not address the fundamental demands put forward by our members, such a proposal will outrightly be rejected by our members who have given us a clear mandate for these negotiations.
“Seemingly, Salga wants workers to get on their knees to beg for the demands that they have put forward. We are not going to bend over backwards to Salga on the bread-and-butter issues of our members, (sic)” Magagula said.
He said, the union was now awaiting the facilitator’s proposal, which will immediately be subjected to members’ scrutiny, following which, the union would convene a Special National Executive Committee meeting to chart a way forward in the battle to ensure that workers receive decent increases that they deserve.
“As we have said before, if the boardroom is not a conducive environment for the conclusion of these negotiations in the best interest of workers, we will gladly conclude them on the street, a situation which we are being pushed into. Our sneakers are ready for the streets,” Magagula added.