Public union seeking mandate for deal

2012-07-09 13:26

The SA Municipal Workers’ Union will spend the next two weeks meeting its members to discuss the government’s most recent offer, spokesperson Tahir Sema has said.

Sema called the latest round of negotiations “successfully concluded” and a “major breakthrough”.

“We will take this to our members and we will discuss this with our members throughout the country. We will explain to them the offer.”

The union is seeking a mandate ahead of its next scheduled meeting with the government in two weeks.

The proposed mediated agreement would give public sector workers a 6.5% increase, followed by another 0.5% increase in January.

It would also increase employer contributions for medical aid for the lowest-paid workers to 100%, from 60%.

Sema said the agreement would also require the government to fill 30 000 vacancies.

He called the demand “long-standing” and argued it was needed to improve service delivery.

“You cannot have a sector with so many open positions and have that sector deliver quality services,” Sema said.

Public service and administration spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya could not immediately be reached for comment.

It is also a multi-year agreement, locking in a 1.5% increase over inflation for the second year, and a one percent over inflation increase for the third year.

Sema said Samwu had wanted only a single-year agreement and had reservations about signing a multi-year deal.

“We were unsuccessful in the last round of wage negotiations to secure that as part of the mediated proposal ... workers will have to decide whether they want to compromise on this.”

The union had been reluctant to enter a multi-year agreement because workers’ socio-economic situations could change from year-to-year, he said. Despite its reservations, Sema said the deal addressed several of the union’s demands.

“This talks to so much of our demands. It doesn’t talk to all, but because it talks to many we feel we’ve made a major breakthrough,” Sema said.

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