Breakthrough in municipal wage talks

A settlement has been reached—but not yet signed—in municipal workers’ wage negotiations, the South African Local Government Association and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union said on Thursday night.

“There was a breakthrough ... and the deal was acceptable,” said Imatu general secretary Johan Koen.

Imatu and South African Municipal Workers’ Union members embarked on a strike over wages four days ago.

Koen said Salga revised its wage offer on Thursday night to what amounted to a 13% across-the-board wage increase.

“By six in the evening we had a settlement,” Salga chief negotiator advocate Mzanele Yawa said, but added that the details of the settlement would be announced on Friday.

Koen said the talks were “very tough” when they resumed on Thursday morning, but that a breakthrough came when a new proposal was put on the table early in the evening.

Under the agreement, workers would receive a 10,5% across-the-board increase from July 1, with an additional 2,5% non-pensionable allowance.

The three-year deal was expected to be signed at 1pm on Friday at a hotel near the OR Tambo International Airport, said Koen.

He said the settlement was “a done deal”, adding that all workers should be back at work by Monday.

He described the strike as a “success”.

South Africa is suffering its first recession since 1992 and unions say the poor are suffering the most. Unemployment is rising, with more than four million people without jobs, according to official data.
- Sapa, Reuters