Municipal wage bill increases by R4.2bn after wage settlement

2012-07-27 13:39

The 6.5% salary increase for municipal workers will add a further R4.2 billion to the municipal wage bill for this year alone, said South African Local Government Association (Salga) chief executive Xolile George.

The three-year wage hike agreement, signed in Pretoria today between Salga, the Independent Municipal and Allied Workers Union (Imatu) and the SA Municipal Workers Union has been hailed as the best move for ailing municipalities which received disappointing audit reports this year.

The settlement comes after three months of drawn-out wage negotiations which have seen municipal workers trashing streets in their demand for better salaries.

But Salga chairperson Thabo Manyoni praised the manner in which the negotiations were concluded without any violent strike action.

“The manner in which these negotiations were conducted without violence or intimidation can truly be commended as a sign of maturing engagements between the bargaining councils. Our commitment in ensuring that the interests of service delivery and citizens are uppermost is evident in the manner that wage settlements are concluded,” said Manyoni.

He said that while Samwu did not attend the ceremony to sign the wage agreement in Pretoria today, the union was fully behind it.

The agreement comes just a day after President Jacob Zuma also accepted the Independent Commission on the Remuneration of Public Office-Bearers’ recommendation of a 5.5% salary increase for public office-bearers, including ministers, deputy ministers, judges, traditional leaders, councillors, premiers and MECs.

Manyoni said the negotiations were concluded against the backdrop of a decreasing revenue base, rising debt owed by consumers to municipalities and an increasing number of municipalities in financial distress.

“This reality meant that negotiators faced an uphill battle to strike a balance between wage demands and the sustainability of municipalities,” said Manyoni.

Salga would also investigate the possibility of providing medical aid cover for all low-income earners who are fully funded by municipalities. It called for government to make it easier for municipalities to institute disciplinary measures against non-performing workers.

“As service delivery-focused entities, mediocrity and non-performance should not be matters that employees cannot be disciplined on and measures must be put in place to ensure fair disciplinary procedures, which are hindered by the current disciplinary procedure and code,” said Manyoni.

Imatu president Stanley Khoza welcomed the municipal wage agreement, adding that it would ensure that councils and municipal employees focused more on service delivery shortcomings in the next three years.

The wage agreements also means that public servants in provincial and national government departments are the only workers in the public sector that are yet to agree on a salary wage hike, as they are deadlocked and in conciliation talks at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council in Centurion.

According to union leaders who spoke on condition of anonymity, the wage negotiations in the public service were at a “critical” stage and there was a possibility that the negotiations could go to arbitration.

Public service unions are demanding a 7.9% wage increment, while government negotiators have offered 6.7% wage increase, which has been rejected.

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