Unions at loggerheads over wage dispute
THE biggest trade union in the local government sector has dismissed its rival’s bid to force hundreds of thousands of municipal workers to accept the offer to increase salaries by 7%.
The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu), which has 159 000 of the 280 000 local government employees as members, dismissed the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union’s (Imatu) bid to ask a mediator to enforce the 7% wage increase offer proposed by facilitator Moe Ally.
Samwu general secretary Simon Mathe said Imatu did not have the power to do this as it was not the majority union in the sector. According to Mathe, the unions and the employers’ representative body, the SA Local Government Association (Salga), will face off at the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) at the end of the month.
This week, Imatu announced that it had referred a dispute to the SALGBC for conciliation and that Salga and Samwu have been cited as respondents.
Imatu is unhappy with Salga’s withdrawal of its acceptance of the facilitator’s 7% salary increase offer to the SALGBC and Samwu’s rejection of Ally’s proposal.
Imatu is demanding that the facilitator’s 7% offer be implemented after the union and Salga accepted it.
However, Samwu, as the biggest representative of municipal workers, rejected the offer.
Mathe said Samwu members want salary increases between 8 and 10% unless there is a fresh mandate.
He warned that should the mediation not succeed there could be a strike.
Salga has already told municipalities that strike management guidelines will apply in the event the salary dispute gets escalated.
“None of the employees who are attached to designated essential services will be allowed to participate in any industrial action,” said Salga chief executive Xolile George, in an update on the negotiations sent to mayors and municipal managers last week Friday.
Salga insists that it remains optimistic that Samwu will reconsider its stance and return to the negotiating table.
The association accused the Cosatu affiliate of shifting goalposts and warned that this will make workers the biggest losers, considering the constrained financial environment in which municipalities are operating.
Salga has previously revealed that the 10% wage hike Samwu is demanding will result in an increase in the local government wage bill from R87.3 billion to R94.9 billion.