Samwu calls on municipalities to pay July salary increases ‘with interest’

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union has reiterated that workers should be paid their salary increases. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

A three-year wage collective agreement was signed in 2018 for the workers’ pay hikes.

The City of Ekurhuleni and the Amathole District Municipality have been directed to pay workers their salary and wage increases, which the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has welcomed.

Municipal workers were supposed to receive a 6.25% salary increase effective from 1 July this year, according to Samwu, after a three-year salary and wage collective agreement was signed in 2018.

Both Ekurhuleni and the Amathole municipalities were directed by the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (Salgbc) to pay their workers those salary increases.

In a statement on Wednesday, Samwu argued that the municipalities had to abide by the collective agreement that was signed.

“As a result of the interference from the National Treasury and the South African Local Government Association (Salga), 11 municipalities invoked clause 11 of the collective agreement, essentially applying to be exempted from paying workers what is contractually and legally owed to them.

“Samwu from the onset has been against these exemptions as the motivations and intentions are nothing but a smokescreen to interfere and collapse collective bargaining in the local government sector.”

The union said it would oppose any exemption applications from the municipalities and reiterated that workers should be paid their salary increases.

“In their exemption applications, most municipalities, including the two had cited the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason why they would not be able to pay workers any increases.

“According to the Salgbc, these municipalities have failed to prove that it is as a result of the pandemic that they would not be paying workers.

“The financials of these municipality have further indicated that these municipalities are of sound financial liquidity and as such, they are in a position to pay workers these increases.”

The union further said it was vindicated that the exemption applications were meant to deny workers their increases.

“This while municipal workers are struggling to keep up with the cost of living, including the rates and taxes that these same municipalities had increased, expecting workers to pay with salaries of 2019.

“We will therefore be monitoring these municipalities to ensure that what is legally due to workers is paid over. We further demand that monies which are owed to workers should be paid with interests.

“All municipalities that have applied for exemption should pay workers their salary increases immediately, with interests.”

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