Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Samwu to officially reject ’anti-worker, pro-employer’ offer

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Jun 23, 2021

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Johannesburg - Cosatu affiliate the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) is expected to decide today whether its members will accept or reject salary increases of between 3.5% and 4% over three years proposed by the wage talks facilitator.

The union last night held its national executive committee meeting to consolidate views from its members across all nine provinces on the offer it has described as “anti-worker and pro-employer”.

Samwu spokesperson Papikie Mohale told Independent Media yesterday that the consensus among the union’s members was to reject facilitator Advocate Naledi Burwana-Bisiwe’s proposal.

Mohale said Samwu would write to the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) today to indicate its decision.

According to Mohale, Samwu will write to the SALGBC to communicate acceptance or rejection of Burwana-Bisiwe’s proposal.

The union, which represents the majority of municipal workers, can either head to mutual arbitration or a strike after starting the process of balloting simultaneously with consulting its members.

Labour law now requires unions to conduct a strike ballot before embarking on industrial action.

On June 10, Burwana-Bisiwe tabled her proposal before Samwu, the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) and the SA Local Government Association (Salga).

In her proposal, Burwana-Bisiwe suggested a 4% salary increase in the first year of the deal, which, if accepted, will come into effect on July 1.

The second and third years of the agreement could see local government employees receive the Consumer Price Index (CPI) minus 1%.

The SA Reserve Bank projects CPI to be 4.5% in 2022 and 4.6% a year later.

Burwana-Bisiwe also proposed that should the forecast CPI be below or above the projected 4.5% and 4.6%, it will remain at both levels.

In terms of the proposal, municipal workers’ benefits and conditions of service that ordinarily increase by virtue of a pay hikes will not be adjusted upward in the first year of the agreement.

”This full moratorium on increase in benefits will include a stoppage of notch increases for this financial year (2021/22),” she proposed.

In 2022/23 and 2023/24, the benefits and conditions of service will increase by 3.5% and 3.6%, respectively, if the proposal were to be accepted by the parties.

After Burwana-Bisiwe tabled her proposal, Samwu told municipal workers to prepare themselves for the upcoming war with their employer.

Last month, Salga, which is the representative body of the country’s 257 municipalities, indicated that it wanted an alignment between wage negotiations at municipal level and public service collective bargaining.

The association also wants a differentiation criteria for municipalities – non-affording, least affording and just affording – and for other variables to be taken into account, including liquidity or solvency ratio, the status of their cash flow, as well as the offer to be independently assessed by a panel of financial experts.

Burwana-Bisiwe’s proposal also makes provision for Salga, Samwu and Imatu to have the right to withdraw from the deal in case of unforeseen supervening circumstances that are declared a disaster and make adherence to its terms and conditions impossible.

The three parties are scheduled for another round of talks next year, when they review the main collective agreement.

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Political Bureau

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