Samwu intends to strike over wage deadlock
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Pretoria - The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) is set to declare a dispute and request a strike certificate after wage negotiations collapsed.
The union said salary and wage negotiations for municipal workers under the auspices of the South African Local Government Bargaining Council collapsed as a result of the continued “arrogance” of the South African Local Government Association (Salga), which represented the country’s 257 municipalities.
Samwu said that with negotiations failing to yield results, members have gone back to their original demands for a single year’s salary and wage agreement; R4 000 salary increase for all workers under the auspices of the bargaining council; R15 000 sectoral minimum wage; and a R3 500 housing allowance for all workers.
The demands also include calls for a 80% employer medical aid contribution and 20% employee contribution; six months fully paid maternal leave and one month fully paid paternity leave; a 25% employer contribution towards pension; absorption of all Extended Public Works Programme and Community Work Programme workers in municipalities; and the rationalisation of pension funds in the sector. Samwu secretary Dumisane Magagula said the facilitator in the bargaining council did a good job, but after extensive mandate-taking processes by the union, a majority of its members rejected the proposal and found it to be a repetition of the employer’s arguments.
“The proposal failed to consider the demands that had been put forward by workers. It should be mentioned that all parties, including Samwu and the other trade union Imatu rejected the facilitator’s proposal.
“An impression should therefore not be created that it is only Samwu who does not want to be bound to this pro-employer proposal. We do not understand why there would be a need for parties to continue talking and wasting valuable time whereas the employer has made known their endgame from the onset.
“Our decision to declare a deadlock was based on the fact that in their opening remarks in the meeting, Salga made it clear that there is a certain line they are not going to cross. This included their argument that municipal workers should receive a below inflation increase and that all benefits that are linked to salaries will be frozen,” Magagula said.
“We were told in no uncertain terms by Salga that there is no way they are going to cross that line; in essence we were told there is no way that municipal workers would receive an above inflation increase or have benefits unfrozen.
“Salga went as far as telling unions, specifically Samwu, that ‘you can do whatever you want but just know there is no way we are going to cross that line’. This is the same arrogance that Salga has been displaying since the start of the negotiations.”
Magagula said they have been patient with the employer for a very long time, but they have not come to the party. “If anything, they have just insulted and provoked workers.
“The time has now come for workers to take matters into their own hands to ensure they get decent increases.”