“The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has formally informed Rand Water of our intentions of going on a full-blown protected strike action,” it said in a statement.
This followed several rounds of unsuccessful negotiations with Rand Water, including a dispute declared by Samwu.
Samwu said it was unfortunate that Rand Water had missed a valuable opportunity to bring a reasonable offer on wage increments during the conciliation process on August 11.
“While this is unfortunate, we have witnessed the arrogance and lack of commitment demonstrated by the employer negotiating team which is what has characterised this year’ s wage negotiations.”
Samwu said Rand Water’s behaviour made it difficult for the parties to reach what might be a possible collective wage agreement that would avert full-blown industrial action.
Samwu, as a responsible trade union, had not declared the dispute “with the view to exercise power play”, but in earnest.
Samwu had hoped that an independent institution such as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA) would afford the parties an opportunity to work hard to reach a wage settlement agreement.
It was unfortunate that services rendered by Rand Water would “come to a complete stop”, which therefore means that residents of Johannesburg, Pretoria, and parts of Mpumalanga will be without water”.
Samwu maintained its current revised position, which included salary increases of 10 percent for the lowest paid, nine percent for all employees just above that level, and eight percent for supervisors.
The union also wanted an incentive bonus of 12 percent for the lowest paid workers. This would see the adjustment of the benefit not enjoyed by the lowest paid workers, compared to senior management, including the CEO and his management team, who were “already earning exorbitant salaries and benefits”.
Samwu further wanted a housing allowance of R2150 across the board.
Rand Water, instead of going back to wage negotiations, had elected to “play mind game[s] and intimidate workers about [the] essential service[s] agreement”.
As a responsible Union, Samwu would never renege to any collective agreement it had signed with employers, including essential services agreements.
However, the warning that had been issues by the Rand Water CEO was misplaced, even though the matter remained unresolved, “meaning we can go to a protected industrial action [but] we are still willing and open for negotiations”.
“Our commitment must also be backed by visible commitment by the Rand Water, in particular the CEO and his negotiating team.
“We are therefore unshaken by the threats coming from the employer’s side; we will ensure that our members receive increases with real gains for them,” Samwu said.