Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Wage negotiations: Public sector unions deadlock while municipal workers appear to make progress

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published May 13, 2021

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WHILE public sector unions are engaged in a deadlock with the national government over salary increases – municipal unions are on a widespread campaign to lobby their members to react to a revised offer by the South African Local Government Association (Salga).

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and Salga have failed to reach an agreement during the initial talks but would be embarking on countrywide membership consultations to discuss the new offer Salga made in the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC).

Samwu deputy secretary-general Dumisane Magagula said the purpose of their consultations would be to give members feedback on the developments in the negotiations wherein the employer body, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) presented various scenarios for consideration by parties in the SALGBC.

Parties, however, were told not to disclose the new Salga offer to the public. Samwu is demanding a minimum sectoral wage of R15 000; R4000 salary increase across the board; six months fully-paid maternity leave; one month fully paid parental leave and a R3 500 housing allowance.

“As a mandate driven organisation, we are duty-bound to convene these meetings which will take place as constituency meetings in all workplaces across the country wherein the scenarios presented by the employer would be given to members for a decision to be made on the way forward.

“Since the first round of negotiations and as mandated by the National Collective Bargaining Conference, we remain committed to these negotiations and will continually and frequently consult with our members on the developments in the bargaining council,” Magagula said.

He said Samwu’s national secretariat would be sending to structures of the union a detailed report of the outcomes of this round of negotiations saying that report would form the basis of their engagements and consultation with structures wherein a comprehensive response will be formulated as a response that Samwu will give in the next round of negotiations which will be held from the 3 to 4 June 2021.

“We, therefore, urge our members and all workers to make sure that they attend these constituency meetings and be part of the decision-making process of the union. After the constituency meetings, the union will then convene a Special National Executive Committee meeting which shall properly package a response to members.

“As Samwu, we remain committed to the mandate given by our members, and as such, we shall strive to ensure that these negotiations are concluded in the best interest of our members, including taking our members on board throughout these negotiations.

“We are further committed to these negotiation processes but will not sell out workers or compromise their interests, ours is to ensure that municipal workers receive salary and wage increases that would ensure that they are able to live a decent life,” Magagula said.

He, however, said that the union had further taken a decision to write letters to Salga president Thembi Nkadimeng and the CEO, Xolile George, requesting them to form part of the next round of negotiations saying they were of the view that their presence would ensure that the employer makes significant moves in the negotiation table and ensure that these negotiations are concluded timeously.

“Samwu further takes this opportunity to scold Salga following a statement they released on 12 May wherein they seek to create an impression that parties in the bargaining council are warming up to each other and that an agreement will be reached soon.

“Salga further creates the impression that as a result of municipal revenue collection declining, labour is intent on compromising the interests of workers. From the onset, Samwu has always maintained that workers cannot be blamed for fraud, corruption, maladministration and inefficiencies in municipalities which included under and non-collection of revenue.

“We, therefore, reiterate that our members should attend these constituency meetings and prepare themselves to defend gains that have been made in the yesteryears,” Magagula insisted.

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