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Samwu could declare dispute with Salga over continuing wage talks

In this file picture, Samwu members march to Tshwane House to demand salary/wage increases. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

In this file picture, Samwu members march to Tshwane House to demand salary/wage increases. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 8, 2021

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Johannesburg - The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) could declare a dispute with the SA Local Government Association (Salga) should facilitators fail to break the current stalemate in the wage talks between the two parties.

Last week marked the last round of negotiations following many rounds since March, wherein the unions presented demands to Salga which represents the country’s 257 municipalities and their entities.

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Samwu spokesperson Papikie Mohale said the unions were waiting for a proposal from facilitators on what they should settle for.

The unions were originally asking for a R4 000 salary increase, a R3 500 housing allowance, and six months paid maternity leave among other demands, but they had to fall back on their original demands because Salga had apparently drawn a line on what could be offered.

“There are no more negotiations, what is left is the facilitators’ proposal and we will respond whether we agree or not,” he said.

Mohale warned that should the proposal be unacceptable to the union, it could declare a dispute.

Mohale said unions were now talking to Salga through facilitators. Samwu would decide at a planned national executive committee (NEC) meeting this Friday whether to accept the facilitators’ proposal.

He did not want to discuss how much the unions had had to fall back regarding their original demands.

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“Throughout the negotiations, Samwu has continued to negotiate in good faith while the employer had sought to turn these negotiations to collective begging. They want labour to literally beg for decent increases,” he said.

Mohale said the union was shocked by a statement from Salga stating that things were going well between unions and the employer in the national negotiations.

“To make matters worse, from the first day of negotiations, Salga drew a line in the sand for us, indicating that there are certain issues which they are not willing to compromise on.

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“The association indicated clearly to labour that they would only offer an increase that is below inflation and that workers’ benefits would be frozen,” he said.

Mohale said Samwu held a special NEC meeting which received and consolidated reports from provinces on the last offer made by Salga at the bargaining council.

“Workers totally rejected the offer that was made by Salga. In fact, workers felt insulted and ridiculed by their employer whom they have diligently served and ensured the continuity of service delivery.

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“These are the same workers who responded to the call made by government to ensure that during the pandemic, crucial municipal services are delivered amid the pandemic,” Mohale said.

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