19 November 2021
SAMWU welcomes dismissal of Uthukela District Municipality exemption application.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) notes and welcomes the decision by the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) to dismiss yet another salary and wage exemption application. The ruling of the SALGBC follows hot on the heels of the dismissal of the City of Cape Town which also sought to be exempted from the recently concluded salary and wage collective agreement.
On the 17th of November 2021, a Senior Panelist of the SALGBC exemptions committee ruled in favour of SAMWU and dismissed the application brought forward by the Uthukela District Municipality. Of great importance is that the Senior Panelist ruled that the application by the municipality was frivolous and as such awarded a cost order against the municipality and further directed the municipality to pay workers their salary and wage increases as per the signed collective agreement backdated to July 2021.
As SAMWU, we are vindicated by this ruling particularly the cost order that has been awarded, we hope that the cost order will deter other municipalities from bringing frivolous applications to the Bargaining Council as we have seen previously. We further trust that other municipalities will learn from this in that they should stop wasting municipal resources and that of unions in defending the indefensible. We in fact believe that this has been fruitless and wasteful expenditure by the municipality and as such this money should be recouped directly from the Chief Accounting Officer of the municipality who brought this frivolous application.
We cannot as SAMWU allow municipalities to continually bring frivolous exemption applications to the Bargaining Council. Frivolous applications prejudice workers who have gone five months without salary increases and more worryingly, workers’ money is being used by unions to defend these applications while municipalities are using public money in this crusade of theirs of reversing the gains of workers. This is money that could have been used by the union to attend to other issues affecting workers and money that could have been used by municipalities to improve the lives of the residents that they serve. It is for this reason that we welcome the cost order and want this money to be personally recouped from Chief Accounting Officer and those who delegated him to make this application.
Despite the fact that the Uthukela District Municipality had passed their 2021/22 budget with the inclusion of a 5.6% salary increase for municipal workers, and a projected surplus of over R10 million, they still sought to deny workers their salary and wage increases. This to us, is an indication that municipalities are seemingly getting advice elsewhere that they should do whatever it takes to ensure that despite sound finances, salary and wage increases should not be paid to municipal workers.
We therefore as SAMWU welcome this ruling with joy and celebration. We yet again trust that this ruling will deter other municipalities from engaging in such practices that seek to undermine collective agreements. More importantly, we thank our members at the Uthukela District Municipality for trusting us with defending their right to salary and wage increases.
We further trust that other municipal workers who have not yet received their salary and wage increases will get solace in knowing that the union is doing all it can in opposing all applications. As we have indicated previously, we have already begun approaching the SALGBC to seek compliance orders against municipalities that have not implemented the salary and wage collective agreement without applying for exemption.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
076 580 4029
KZN Provincial Secretary
065 871 8434