30 July 2020
SAMWU statement on the inaugural imbizo
This is the first of our many more imbizos to come, we have called this imbizo to give an update on the implementation of salary and wage collective agreement, benchmarking in the City of Tshwane, covid-19 allowance for municipal workers and to announce our way forward in dealing with municipalities that have not implemented the salary and wage collective agreement.
Most importantly, we have called this imbizo to speak directly to our members in Gauteng Province and hear their concerns and frustrations.
Salary and wages collective agreement implementation
In 2018, SAMWU through the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) entered into a 3-year multi agreement with the employer body being the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) which represents the country’s municipalities.
In the last year of this agreement being the 2020/21 financial year, municipal workers were supposed to receive a 6.25% salary and wage increase.
It should be noted that during the negotiations, the union was opposed to having a multi-year agreement. This was forced down the throats of municipal workers, in fact, municipal workers were demanding a 15% salary increase.
Around march this year, the national leadership of the union were in an Exco meeting of the SALGBC wherein National Treasury made a presentation arguing that municipalities should collectively invoke Clause 11 of the Main Collective Agreement.
Clause 11 of the Main Collective Agreement allows for municipalities to apply to be exempted to pay salary and wage increments.
The union has vehemently opposed the suggestion that municipalities should collectively apply for exemption, the reasons advanced by National Treasury for exemption application are nothing but a smokescreen intended on denying municipal workers their salary increases.
They have successfully done it to public sector employees and now they are gunning for municipal workers. This is a war that they will not win.
Status of collective agreement implementation
We are pleased to announce that in the province, there has been greater compliance with the collective agreement wherein most of the province’s 11 municipalities have already paid workers what is due to them.
Of the 2 entities in the province, Erwart, a water entity in Ekurhuleni has honoured the agreement. We are currently in negotiations with the other entity, Rand Water and hope that these negotiations will be concluded soon so that workers can get their increments.
Lesedi – paid
Midvaal – paid
Emfuleni – has committed that payment shall be done in August 2020, retrospectively.
Sedibeng – not paid, we are told exemption application was filed.
Randwest City – paid
Merafong City – paid
West Rand District (WRDM) – paid 4%
The Mogale City municipality has not paid
Johannesburg – confirmed that payment shall be made by August 2020, retrospectively.
After a fierce battle with the employer, the City of Tshwane finally acceded to the demands of workers for the immediate implantation of the collective agreement. If workers had not taken a firm stance, surely the City would have taken advantage and not give workers what is due to them.
We commend our members for having have ensured that they force the employer to implement the salary and wage increase.
We can confirm that we have received confirmation that the City of Ekurhuleni has invoked Clause 11 of the collective agreement.
It should however be noted that workers are not buying the story that the City does not have sufficient resources to cover the salary and wage increment.
This City has become the capital City of corruption where people do as they please with municipal resources. The City continually waste money on double paying contractors for work that has been done by municipal workers. The City cannot plead poverty when money is being wasted like this.
On Monday 27th July, workers had gotten a court order to march to the City’s offices in Germiston to demand the immediate implementation of the collective agreement and the reinstatement of the 50 workers from solid waste department who had been unfairly dismissed for exposing the rot and corruption in the City.
Instead of being welcomed by the City to accept the memorandum of demands, the police were unleashed on workers who were on a peaceful and legal action. 11 of our members and an official were arrested and spent the night sleeping on the floor in a cold, filthy and smelly jail cell.
We are disgusted at the politicization of this matter wherein workers were pointed out to be arrested, some were arrested in their private vehicles while some were arrested while performing their duties.
The information we have received is that instruction had come from high above that certain union leaders should be arrested while a further instruction was given that anyone wearing a red t-shirt should be arrested.
We are also angered at the manner in which the police handled the situation in dispersing the group of workers who had a court order permitting the march. Workers were shot point blank while others had their cellphones stolen or damaged by the police.
This is a matter that we will be closely following up on to ensure that justice is served.
In the same breathe, it has come to our attention that the very same employer that had pleaded poverty as a reason to not being able to honour the agreement has however paid Councillors and Section 56&57 their salary increases.
Essentially the employer is showing the people who are responsible for service delivery the middle finger. The City is saying they do not care about municipal workers but would rather fill stomachs of politicians.
On the 18th November 2019, the union in he City of Tshwane entered into a benchmarking collective agreement with the City following the upgrade of the City from category 9 to 10. This agreement would have seen municipal workers in the City receiving an increase backdated to July 2017.
The agreement made provision for two lump sum payments one in January 2020 and other in July 2020. Payments were made in January 2020 and workers were expecting last lump sum payment in July 2020 and that was not done.
SAMWU had been engaging administrators since they first arrived in the City, in May 2020 the CFO confirmed to labour that all was in order and that workers would be receiving the last of the money owed to them.
On 14 July 2020 in the Local Labour Forum, the City indicated that they had 300 million which would cover one financial year instead of two. Two days later the City indicated that the money was no longer there.
We were informed that the City used the money to pay third parties such as SARS and medical aids which were in arrears due to negligence.
On 29 July 2020, the union met with the Gauteng GOGTA MEC, Legogang Maile, the purpose of this meeting was to find common ground on the current impasse between labour and the City.
The union has also lodged an enforcement application informed by nature of the matter, the Bargaining Council has requested its legal department to provide clarity on the matter.
Our position remains that workers had budgeted and commitments for this money and the employer must implement as agreed on 18 November 2019. Senior Managers were paid more than hundred thousand each and there was no issue. It should not be an issue when lowest paid employees are to be paid
Allegations of employees deliberately turning off services
We have noted with great allegations that municipal workers in the City of Tshwane have deliberately been switching off electricity and water. These allegations are strongly denied, they are nothing but an attempt to drive a wedge between workers and communities.
Before we are municipal workers, we are community members. We also want clean running water and electricity in our homes. It therefore makes no sense why municipal workers anyone would even allege that municipal workers are behind the service disruptions.
After hearing these allegations, the union’s leadership conducted an inspection in loco in Region 4. We discovered that the power outage was caused by some damaged underground cables. The City confirmed that this was not caused by employees and they have since apologized to workers and residents.
We caution municipal workers to be vigilant of and protect the City’s infrastructure, not only is this their way of feeding their families but they too need these services. Workers should be wary of vandals who want to highjack genuine demands of workers.
Workers will be going to the affected municipalities to “remind” employers of the 6.25%, it seems as though they had forgotten to implement it.
Issued by SAMWU Gauteng Province
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