Showdown over pay – trade unions vs. Salga

 

“LABOUR unions representing workers in local government hope that the SA Local Government Association will increase its wage offer when the parties meet in the next round of negotiations in two weeks' 

Although the unions – the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) and the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) – have not threatened to strike, there are strong indications that they could consider that option.

During last week's negotiation, Salga moved up a notch, from 4% to 4,5%, after both unions dropped from 13% to 11%.

Imatu's spokeswoman Anja Muller-Deibicht said anger was brewing because Salga was delaying negotiations.

“Negotiations were continually halted by the need for Salga's negotiators to caucus among each other. It appeared as if they were not sufficiently prepared and are seemingly not ready to meet workers halfway,” she said.

Negotiations were also stalled because of Salga's insistence that the main agreement and disciplinary code should be terminated.

“Salga's determination to terminate the main collective agreement which protects our members' organisational rights and conditions of service such as working hours, overtime rates, maternity leave and sick leave is also disconcerting and creates an atmosphere of distrust in the employer,” Muller-Deibicht said.

Samwu spokesman Tahir Sema said the union was disappointed by the tiny movement made by Salga.

“Their offer is still below inflation. This is not a good sign that Salga is serious about resolving these negotiations peacefully.

“We are committed to try and resolve the negotiations with as little as possible disruption to municipal services,” he said.

Imatu and Samwu are negotiating from a slightly different position, with the former demanding an across-the-board increase of 11.5% or R1750, whichever is the greater, and a minimum wage in the local government sector of R5500 a month.

Samwu entered the negotiations demanding 13% or R2000 and a minimum wage of R6000.

Salga's acting executive director Zwe Ndlala blamed unions for making unreasonable demands.

“They are not enabling the engagements to be meaningful. We have tabled all the facts to show that their demands are unreasonable.”

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