Tshwane municipal workers threaten strike if salary disputes not settled
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Pretoria - Municipal workers will today gather outside Tshwane House to receive feedback from the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) on wage disputes amid threats of massive strike action planned for next week.
Union regional secretary Mpho Tladinyane said the main purpose of the gathering would be to report to workers about unresolved salary issues.
The union was disgruntled about a move to stop "the once-off payments" linked to the benchmarking agreement reached with the municipality, to back pay workers from July 1 2017, when it was accorded a category 10 status.
Back then, the City was moved by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs from category 9 to 10, in line with its counterpart metros, but the workers' salaries were not adjusted accordingly.
Tladinyane said: "There are now issues that the municipality is stopping the once-off payments for benchmarking and leave encashments."
In February, a group of about 40 workers accused the metro of failing to attend to complaints regarding outstanding benchmarking payouts.
They were then asked by Samwu to exercise patience due to ongoing negotiations between the union and the employer to attend to their issues.
In June last year, municipal workers took to the streets to demand the benchmarking payouts and a 6.25% wage increment.
At the time, the then City head administrator Mpho Nawa said the metro would honour the wage increase. However, he warned: “Our projections indicate that if nothing changes, the City is likely to have a shortfall of R5bn by the end of the 2020/21 financial year, thus running the risk of not being able to honour its financial obligations, including salaries."
Both the union and mayor Randall Williams were scheduled to meet late yesterday to discuss ways to resolve the payment impasse.
Although workers will not report for duty today, Tladinyane said their meeting should not be interpreted as a strike.
He said in terms of the benchmarking agreement, the unions were allowed to have meetings with their affiliates as and when there was a need for interactions.
He, however, hinted that there might be a "battle" in the form of a strike next week for workers to air their grievances in the manner the municipality has been handling the benchmarking issues.
"We are not at all happy with the way they have been handling the benchmarking issues. There is a possibility that there might be a battle sometimes next week if we would have reasons to believe that our issues have not been resolved," Tladinyane said.
Chief of staff Jordan Griffiths said he was aware of a planned workers' gathering.
However, he said the meeting between the mayor and the union was meant to address labour issues emanating from a benchmarking bargaining agreement.
"Everything is largely resolved, but there are some matters pertaining to how the incremental structures have been created, and there is some sort of disagreement on the interpretations of the collective agreement, which we are trying to resolve and make clarity on."
The creation of incremental structures related to the placement of workers to adjusted posts with high salary scales.
The Pretoria News understands that workers expected to receive letters informing them of their new posts on Tuesday, but that never happened.
Griffiths said it was important to thrash out those issues with organised labour because "some of the issues will have financial implications on the municipality in future".
Regarding threats of a strike, he said: "This is a challenge because these guys are trying to pre-empt the decisions and discussions. We really just started talking and this is weird because we are reaching out to them, and if anything we want to engage on these matters. People are reading these things in a manner which I don't think is the best approach."