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Samwu threatens to strike over salary issues

eThekwini Municipality workers brought the traffic to a standstill in Durban's CBD as the protest in front of the City Hall demanding a salary increase. Picture: Siboniso Mngadi

eThekwini Municipality workers brought the traffic to a standstill in Durban's CBD as the protest in front of the City Hall demanding a salary increase. Picture: Siboniso Mngadi

Published Jun 6, 2021


Durban: The South African Municipal Workers Unions (Samwu) has threatened to embark on a nationwide strike should the municipalities fail to adhere to their “steep” salary demands.

The wage increment negotiations for 2021 between municipal unions and the South African Local Government Association (Salga) which represents all municipalities were expected to be concluded this week.

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However, they reached a deadlock on Friday with no collective agreement on the horizons.

Salga had tabled a proposal of a 2.8% salary increment across the board while Samwu demanded 9% or R4000, while the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) demanded 5.5%.

The association cited the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason for its low offer and said the municipal sector was hardest hit by the pandemic.

The negotiations were postponed until next week to allow the facilitator to formulate a proposal to help both parties to reconcile.

The facilitator will formulate a detailed proposal to cover all the areas that are the subject matter of negotiations.

But Samwu, which represents over 160 000 workers across the country, maintained it would not “sacrifice” their members' mandate.

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On top of the 9%, the union wants a housing allowance of R 3500 irrespective of a bond, an allowance of R2000 for all employees required to utilise cellphones and data, a medical aid contribution – 80% medical aid contribution by employers while workers will contribute 20% among them.

Dumisani Magagula, Samwu deputy general-secretary said if the boardroom was not a conducive environment for the conclusions of negotiations they would take it to the streets in the best interest of workers.

“Our sneakers are ready for the streets. We place on record that should the facilitator’s proposal which is expected to be issued to parties tomorrow (Monday) does not address the fundamental demands put forward by our members, such a proposal will outright be rejected by our members who have given us a clear mandate for these negotiations.

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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,” he added.

Keith Swanepoel, Imatu president, said the national executive council would convene a special meeting on Wednesday to consider the anticipated facilitator’s proposal.

He said the negotiations were being conducted against the backdrop of many municipal employees being under extreme financial pressure due to escalating living costs and the impact of the pandemic on their families.

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“Thereafter, Imatu will be consulting its members for a final mandate. Imatu is hopeful that an amicable settlement can be reached," he added.

Rio Nolutshungu, Salga chief negotiator, was hopeful that the introduction of a facilitator’s proposal would afford municipalities yet another opportunity to consider the viability of the proposal made.

"Proposals developed by negotiations facilitators are very often effective instruments for facilitating an agreement when Parties have mandated positions that are difficult to reconcile, as this has been the case with current negotiations, as with similar negotiations processes across the public sector," he said.

Negotiations were expected to resume next week when all parties have discussed the facilitator's proposal.

The Sunday Tribune

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Trade Unions