14 April 2021
SALGA INSULTS WORKERS BY OFFERING A RIDICULOUS R233 SALARY INCREASE
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has on the 12th to the 14th of April 2021continued with the salary and wage negotiations for municipal workers in the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) wherein trade unions and the employer representative, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) meet to discuss salaries and wages for workers in under the auspices of the SALGBC.
This meeting follows the first meeting held by parties in February wherein trade unions formally presented their mandated demands in the Bargaining Council. In the April meeting, SALGA finally responded to the demands of workers wherein they presented a ridiculous offer for workers. If this was not a matter of the bread-and-butter issues and of direct interest to our members, we would label their offer as laughable.
In the meeting, SALGA presented a salary and wage proposal of R233 increase for the country’s municipal workers. In addition to this, SALGA further proposed that all other demands such as medical aid, standby allowance, cell phone allowance and housing allowance should be frozen for the coming three years.
The offer by SALGA comes as spit in the faces of municipal workers who have carried this country throughout the pandemic and continued ensuring that the delivery of quality services is not disrupted or interrupted despite workers facing the greater risk of contracting Covid-19 in the workplace as a result of the incompetence and reluctance of employers to ensure that the health and safety of workers is guaranteed.
Of greatest concern to us is that SALGA is hellbent on punishing municipal workers for the coronavirus pandemic, a pandemic which is not of their own making. The employer further argues that the pandemic almost brought government services to a near standstill, yet they forget that it is the same municipal workers who have and continue to ensure that services are delivered without fail throughout the country.
In further trying to substantiate their ridiculous offer, SALGA argues that South Africa has recorded the highest unemployment rate since the 2008 global recession. It is our considered view as SAMWU that the high levels of unemployment is reason enough for municipal workers to receive the demands which they have put forward. This given the fact that on average, 1 worker in the country supports between 4 and 7 depends.
To further illustrate that SALGA is not interested in the welfare of municipal workers, they have encouraged municipalities to increase levies, rates and taxes to above inflation. They forget that these very same workers whom they are denying a living wage and offered a mere R233 are supposed to be paying those levies, rates and taxes which will undoubtedly be unaffordable to workers and the working class in general.
Essentially, SALGA has taken a decision that they want to relegate municipal workers to starvation and hunger while expecting them to productive.
In further wanting use municipal workers as scape goats, SALGA has indicated that there are a number of municipalities which are under financial distress. As the general custodian of municipalities, SALGA forgets that it is their members who are responsible for the looting and thieving of the much-needed resources.
The Auditor General has year after year expressed concern that municipalities continue to irregularly fruitlessly and wastefully money with impunity. Corruption in the sector has become an order of the day particularly through the tendering system.
The Auditor general has further indicated that municipalities are failing to properly collect money that is owed to them. As per the report presented in Parliament, municipalities are owed over R20 billion by government departments while a further R120 billion is owed by businesses and residents to municipalities.
SALGA can therefore not come to the negotiation table and plead poverty whereas they are failing to collect billions that are owed to them. For the record, the demands that have been put forward by trade unions will only cost the employer R9 billion more annually.
We are therefore of the view that these demands are affordable by municipalities and as such, workers should be given what is due to them. Compared to other spheres of government, the wage bill in all of the country’s 257 municipalities is R29 billion per annum, this the smallest of all wage bills in all of the three government spheres.
The argument by the employer that municipalities have a bloated workforce is therefore manipulative and self-serving and further seeks to serve as a move to portray municipal workers as greedy.
In responding to the substantive motivations made by trade unions, the employer has therefore indicated that they will only consider a salary and wage collective agreement if the following conditions are met;
1. A 3-year multiyear salary and wage collective agreement.
2. A 2.8% salary increase across the board, this translates to R233 increase for the least paid employees.
3. A collective agreement on pension fund restructuring, without our demand for the 25% employer contribution towards pension funds.
4. A total freeze on all benefits linked to salaries.
5. An easy mechanism of municipalities to opt-out of the collective agreement.
6. An easier mechanism for municipalities apply for exemption from the collective agreement.
7. Retaining the 60% employer medical aid contribution.
We are particularly infuriated by the fact that SALGA wants to coerce workers into signing an agreement that makes it easy to renege on the agreement through an opt-out” “clause despite there being mechanisms which allow municipalities to apply for exemptions if they are unable to honour the collective agreement.
To make things worse, SALGA’s negotiation team is only comprised of officials from both the SALGA’s Head Office and a mixture of senior and junior managers from municipalities. As SAMWU, we are convinced that these negotiations could be concluded earlier if there was the involvement of Councillors and senior officials from SALGA such as their President, Cllr Thembi Nkadimeng.
The proposal by SALGA and the non-availability who are able to take decisions on behalf of SALGA is a clear indication that they are not interested in concluding these negotiations timeously and in the interest of all parties involved.
As mandated by our National Collective Bargaining Conference and the subsequent Special Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting. Our demands remain as presented to parties in the SALGBC
On March 11 as follows;
1. A single year salary and wage agreement.
2. R4 000 salary increase for all workers under the auspices of the SALGBC.
3. R15 000 sectoral minimum wage.
4. R 3 500 housing allowance for all workers. 80% employer medical aid contribution and 20% employee contribution.
5. 25% employer contribution towards pension.
6. Six months fully paid maternal leave and 1 month fully paid paternity leave.
7. That this collective agreement should include EPWP and CWP workers who report directly to municipalities.
8. 80% employer contribution towards medical aid and 20% employee contribution.
As SAMWU, we believe that these mandated demands we presented are affordable by municipalities. Municipal workers cannot be blamed for individuals who made it their mandate to deliberately loot and run-down municipalities.
From this point forward, we will be robustly engaging with our members on this ridiculous offer.
Given the arrogance and negotiation in bad faith by SALGA, we are therefore mobilising and readying our members to ensure that their demands are met.
If SALGA wants to continue negotiating in bad faith, our members are ready to ensure that these negotiations are concluded on the streets.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
Deputy General Secretary
084 806 4029
National Media Officer
073 71 00356