14 June 2021
SAMWU to consult members after proposal for municipal workers to receive R356 salary increase.
The South African Municipal Worker’s Union (SAMWU) has on the 7th of June received the much-anticipated facilitator’s proposal in the salary and wage talks for workers in the country’s 257 municipalities.
The purpose of the facilitator’s proposal is to, if agreed by all parties (SAMWU, IMATU and SALGA) form basis of a salary and wage agreement for the sector.
The facilitator was asked, after the exhaustion of four rounds of negotiations to prepare her proposal since parties were not finding each other in the negotiation table.
Throughout the negotiations, we had not seen any significant movement from the employer while SAMWU continued negotiating in good faith, including making indications that we are willing to significantly move, should the employer reciprocate, however the employer failed to do so.
We however would like to point out that as SAMWU we are of the view that the facilitator’s proposal is bias towards SALGA as the employer. The facilitator has neglected all of the issues which were put forward by workers. In fact, we have noted the facilitator’s proposal as a repetition of the employer’s arguments and offer throughout these negotiations.
The facilitator, has proposed that parties agree as follows;
1. A 3 years salary and wage agreement.
2. A 4% salary increase in the first year of the agreement and projected CPI minus 1% in the outer years of the agreement.
3. A total freeze on all benefits to municipal workers in the first year of the agreement, these will only be fully unfrozen in the last year of the agreement.
4. Sectoral minimum wage to only increase in line with salary increases.
5. Deferment of the employability of EPWP, CWP and our demands for maternity and paternity leave to other processes.
6. Making it easy for SALGA to, on behalf of all municipalities withdraw from this and future collective agreement.
7. Finalisation of the pension fund restructuring in the sector.
What does the facilitator’s proposal mean for workers and the sector?
1. Workers have demanded that this year we should enter into a single year agreement with the employer. This would assist the sector in that there would be annual salary and wage negotiations as the future is uncertain.
Despite the employer having have said in the negotiations that they are willing to consider a single year agreement, the facilitator has however out of her own proposed that parties should enter into a 3-year agreement thus neglecting the demand from workers even though the employer was warming up to the idea of a single year agreement.
2. A 4% proposed salary increase is a direct spit in the face of municipal workers. This proposed increase means that the least paid municipal workers would receive a salary increase of R356 before taxation.
It should however be noted that food inflation on its own is above 10% while other items in the cost of living have also significantly gone up thus leaving municipal workers not being able to make means.
Workers had demanded a R4000 salary increase across the board, this was to ensure that the wage gap in the sector is narrowed and that workers receive decent increases.
Yet again, the facilitator neglected the genuine demands of workers and continued doing the bidding for the employer and proposed a below inflation salary increase.
To make matters worse, for the first time in a facilitators’ proposal we are seeing a facilitator proposing a salary increase that is linked to inflation but subtracting a percentage from the CPI as she has proposed in the 2 outer years of her proposal.
3. In yet another attempt of repeating and doing the employer’s bidding, the facilitator has proposed that all benefits that municipal workers receive should be frozen, this also includes benefits that are negotiated at divisional and local levels.
For us this is an attack on collective bargaining and reversing the gains that have been made through the years. The freezing of benefits is one item that has always been rejected by our members.
4. SAMWU had demanded that the sectoral minimum wage be R15 000. According to research, this is the amount that one would need to live a decent life in South Africa.
It should be noted that a majority of municipal workers are currently earning below R15 000 and as such they are unable to live a decent life.
The facilitator has also neglected the issue of housing allowance for all municipal workers, this is the category of workers which would have greatly benefited from this demand as they are currently battling with getting decent housing from both the government and financial institutions.
5. As SAMWU, we demanded that the scope of this collective agreement to include EPWP and CWP workers who are allocated to municipality. It is our considered view that these workers are municipal workers by virtue of them providing municipal services and using municipal tools of trade.
We had further demanded that new mothers should be given six months fully paid maternity leave and fathers be given 1 month fully paid paternity leave.
The facilitator has however decided that these two items be deferred to another process outside of this collective agreement.
We are of the view that delaying these matters will only do injustice, especially to EPWP and CWP workers as they are still under exploitative programmes with no job security or benefits.
6. The facilitator has also made provisions which make it easier for SALGA to withdraw on this and any future collective agreements. This means that SALGA can just wake up one morning and declare that municipal workers will not be receiving salary increases despite an agreement being in place.
We however know the reason why SALGA and the facilitator are pushing for this clause to be inserted in the collective agreement, they know that in all exemption applications which municipalities lodged, only one was successful while two are awaiting finalisation.
As a worker-controlled organisation, we will be subjecting this anti-worker and pro-employer proposal to our members for a final determination and the route that should be taken.
In the same process, we will, as required by law, ballot our members for a potential strike that will happen should the proposal be rejected.
Parties in the SALGBC have been given until 22 June to respond on their acceptance or rejection of the facilitator’s proposal.
We therefore urge our members to attend their constituency meetings for reporting back sessions and mandate taking. Municipal workers should also prepare themselves for the upcoming war with the employer.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
Deputy General Secretary
084 375 8105
National Media Officer
073 710 0356