02 July 2021
Municipal salary negotiations have officially collapsed, SAMWU to declare a dispute and request a strike certificate.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) can confirm that salary and wage negotiations for municipal workers under the auspices of the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) have collapsed as a result of the continued arrogance of the employer body, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) which is a representative of the country’s 257 municipalities.
On the 1st of July 2021 parties in the SALGBC reconvened to formally register their mandated positions on the Facilitator’s proposal which was issued on the 7th of June 2021 for consideration. After extensive mandate taking processes by the union, majority of our members rejected the proposal and found it to be a repetition of the employer’s arguments. The proposal failed to consider the demands that had been put forward by workers.
In yesterday’s meeting, SAMWU was unequivocally clear to the Facilitator, that she had done a great job, a great job in doing the bidding of SALGA as an employer and that the employer should applaud her for aligning herself with the employer in their quest to deny municipal workers decent salary increases.
Yesterday, the union formally placed on record its mandated position to reject the facilitator’s proposal and made it known to the Bargaining Committee that parties have failed to find each other in the negotiations and that the facilitator’s proposal has not assisted in bringing parties together.
It should be mentioned that all parties, including SALGA and the other trade union, IMATU rejected the facilitator’s proposal. An impression should therefore not be created that it is only
SAMWU who does not want to be bound to this pro-employer proposal. We do not understand why there would be a need for parties to continue talking and wasting valuable time whereas the employer has made known their endgame from the onset.
As such SAMWU placed on record that parties have deadlocked and as such there is no need for parties to engage further. Our decision to declare a deadlock was based on the fact that in their opening remarks in the meeting, SALGA made it clear that there is a certain line that they are not going to cross, this included their argument that municipal workers should receive a below inflation increase and that all benefits that are linked to salaries will be frozen.
We were told in no uncertain terms by SALGA that there is no way that they are going to cross that line, in essence we were told that there is no way that municipal workers would receive an above inflation increase or have benefits unfrozen.
SALGA went as far as telling unions, specifically SAMWU that “you can do whatever you want but just know that there is no way we are going to cross that line.” This is the same arrogance that SALGA hand been displaying since the commencement of the negotiations.
Essentially SALGA had been positional and rigid throughout these negotiations, this despite the fact that unions even went to an extent of significantly reducing their demands as a compromise which we had hoped would trigger a reciprocation from the employer, but such was a futile exercise on our part.
From the onset, we had warned that SALGA had not come to these negotiations in good faith and theirs was to deploy delay tactics and to frustrate the negotiations process. This unfortunately has resulted in a situation wherein municipal workers will not be receiving a salary increase in July 2021. These negotiations were supposed to have yielded a collective agreement which would have been in force from 1st July 2021.
Our warning of the attitude of SALGA’s negotiation team was accompanied by a letter which we wrote directly to SALGA CEO, Mr. Xolile George and President, Cllr Thembi Nkadimeng wherein we pleaded with them that in the interest of concluding these negotiations timeously and without the need of going to the streets, their presents is needed in the Bargaining Committee.
We were however snubbed by SALGA when both the Mr. George and Cllr Nkadimeng did not respond to our pleas, but instead delegated the very same people whom we have been complaining about their attitude. The chief negotiator’s response sought to make mockery of the union as he responded by only acknowledging receipt of our letter.
As SAMWU, we are of the view that this whole situation would have been avoided had the SALGA political leadership responded to our pleas and ensured that they are part of the negotiations, so they steer the negotiations in the right direction. They have failed to do so and as such, the current situation which we find ourselves in is of their own making, their irresponsible behaviour and non-action thereof now has a potential of creating labour instability in the sector.
SALGA has literally shown workers the middle finger by snubbing our request for the political leadership to partake in the negotiations. They have provoked workers by seeking to engage in positional negotiations, they have further agitated workers by denying them decent salary and wage increases.
We have been patient with the employer for a very long time, they have not come to the party, if anything, they have just insulted and provoked workers. The time has now come for workers take matters into their own hands to ensure that they get decent increases, a position which we have been pushed to by SALGA.
SAMWU’s Current Position
As things stand, and in line with the rules of the SALGBC, parties have the right to revert back to their original demands if the facilitator’s proposal is not accepted by all parties. As a result, SAMWU’s current demands remains 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.
5. 80% employer medical aid contribution and 20% employee contribution.
6. Six months fully paid maternal leave and 1 month fully paid paternity leave.
7. A 25% employer contribution towards pension
8. Absorption of all EPWP and CWP workers who are in municipalities
9. Rationalisation of pension funds in the sector.
On the Way forward
Salary and wage negotiations between parties in the SALGBC have officially collapsed. SAMWU will within the next few days write to the SALGBC, formally declaring a dispute. The next step that will be followed will be Conciliation.
As mandated by our structures, when the dates for Conciliation are announced, SAMWU will not entertain any talks with the employer if they continue with their positional and rigid position but rather request that a certificate on non-resolution be issued, essentially paving way for a nation-wide strike action in all of the country’s 257 municipalities and their entities.
As SAMWU, we did not begin these negotiations with the intention of going on strike but to get job security for exploited Community Works Programme (EPWP) and Community Works Programme (CWP) workers who are based in municipalities. Most importantly, we went into these negotiations to demand decent salary and wage increases for the country’s municipal workers.
There is however no need to continue talking with an employer that is rigid and positional and not willing to compromise on their position. SALGA should not make the mistake of thinking that only them have the ability to be rigid and positional in these talks, we too have a mandate derived from workers but were willing to enter into compromises to ensure that these negotiations are concluded timeously.
In the process of reporting back on the facilitator’s proposal, the union had run a parallel process of balloting workers for a potential strike in the sector, as required by law. We can reveal that over 80% of our members have been balloted and preliminary results are that workers in their majority have voted to go on strike.
We therefore as SAMWU, accept the invitation by SALGA that these negotiations should be concluded on the streets. This is an invitation which we were given by SALGA on the 1st July, an invitation which we gladly welcome.
Workers are ready, our sneakers are ready, we shall therefore conclude these negotiations on the streets.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
Deputy General Secretary
(076 580 4029)
National Media Officer
(073 710 0356)