A nationwide strike by municipal workers is set to be averted as the trade unions and employers under the South African Local Government Association (Salga) are eagerly awaiting an arbitration award that will be binding to all parties next week.
In their last arbitration meeting at the South African Local Government Bargaining Council, the parties – the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu), the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), and Salga agreed to the arbitrator’s proposal of a “package deal” involving a 7% increase on wages and benefits covering a three-year period.
But the arbitrator’s proposal that a further 0.5% hike for lower-income employees (earning R9 000 or less), should be implemented from January 1, 2019, was rejected by Imatu and Samwu. Instead, the two unions demanded that this be brought forward to October 2018.
Salga accepted the arbitrator’s date.
Imatu applied for arbitration, citing the other parties as respondents.
It is now up to the arbitrator, Moe Ally, to rule on when the low-income earners’ second phase raise would be applied. His decision on the matter would be final and binding to all the parties.
The increase would move the minimum wage at municipalities to R7 324,24, which is likely to further increase for those earning R9 000 or less later, depending on the date of the implementation of their raise.
Imatu’s deputy general secretary, Craig Adams, said the negotiations were difficult and they were relieved that they were finally concluded. He said the current economic climate and recent increases VAT and fuel, among others, made for a rigorous negotiation process.
More than 250 000 employees are employed in the local government sector of whom 70% were in the essential services.
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