Deadlock at municipal wage talks

Negotiations between municipal workers and their employers remain deadlocked, unions said on Thursday afternoon.

“The meeting is still continuing behind closed doors. There is no outcome yet,” said Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) spokesperson Simon Riekert.

According to an sms Riekert received from the union’s general secretary, the mood at the meeting with the South African Local Government Association (Salga) was “bad”.

“No good news whatsoever,” said Riekert.

Talks would continue “as long as it takes. We have to see if we can’t break the deadlock.”

The strike by Imatu and the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) entered its fourth day on Thursday.

Riekert said Salga’s public statement that it had offered a 13% across-the-board increase was “not a true reflection of the offer that was made by them”.

He said the three-year salary and wage agreement being offered would see—in the 2009/2010 financial year—an across-the-board 11,5% increase from July 1, and a 1,5% increase from January 1 2010.

In the 2010/2011 financial year an increase of CPI plus 1,5% was offered and in year three, 2011/2012, CPI plus 2%.

The minimum wage offered would be R3 850, increased on January 1 2010 to R4 000.

The housing allowance would increase from July 1 to a maximum mortgage bond of R100 000.
The amount would increase by R10 000 in year two and by a further R25 000 in year three.

A joint task team would investigate the feasibility of establishing a national rental allowance dispensation across all municipalities.

Salga was all offering to fill all “vacant, funded, critical and essential posts” at all levels of municipalities by July 1 2010.

According to Imatu, the way the offer, if accepted, would play out, would mean workers would only see a 13% salary increase from January 1 2010.

“The minimum wage will accordingly only be adjusted on January 1 2010, which will also impact on employees’ ability to provide for their families over the Christmas period.”

Riekert said this would most affect general workers at the bottom of the salary scale.

“The multi-year nature of the agreement is also not acceptable to our members.”

Earlier, Samwu said its members had rejected the latest wage offers.

About 125 000 Samwu members were staying away from work, while most of the 70 000 Imatu members had returned to work.—Sapa

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