Samwu warns of local government wage talk collapse as arbitration is extended

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Arbitration to break the deadlock in the local government wage talks took place on 19 and 20 July in Durban.
Arbitration to break the deadlock in the local government wage talks took place on 19 and 20 July in Durban.
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  • The SA Municipal Workers' Union urged SA Local Government Association officials to show up at wage negotiations.
  • The SA Local Government Bargaining Council has agreed that the conciliation process should be extended to 3 and 4 August.
  • Arbitration to break the deadlock in the local government wage talks took place in Durban on 19 and 20 July.

As local government wage talks continue with no clear end in sight, the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) has urged local government to take wage talks seriously, expressing concern over a potential collapse in negotiations.

This came as the parties in the wage talks at the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) agreed the conciliation process should be extended to 3 and 4 August.

Arbitration to break the deadlock in the local government wage talks took place on 19 and 20 July in Durban. The dispute is registered as a "mutual interest dispute" by essential service employees in terms of section 74 of the Labour Relations Act.

Labour said the SA Local Government Association (Salga) could not use Covid-19 as an excuse to give workers a 2.8% salary increase. Before the breakdown of talks, unions demanded a R4 000 salary increase across the board and a sectoral minimum wage of R15 000.

After the arbitration in Durban, Salga CEO Xolile George invited unions for bilateral engagement in the hopes of ending the impasse in negotiations.

Samwu said it would attend. In a statement, it added that while it has acquiesced to the intervention, Samwu maintained that this came "very late in the process".

"We have, in the early stages of these negotiations written to Salga president Thembi Nkadimeng and ... George to request their presence in the negotiations.

"We warned them that the lack of their presence in the negotiations will lead to its collapse, and such has happened," the statement said.

The union said when meeting Salga, Samwu officials would tell the association that the employer was "in this situation because of their own doing", and that Salga ignored union pleas to take these negotiations seriously.

"We will also tell them municipal workers will this month not be receiving salary increases because of the stubbornness of their negotiation team," the union said.

Samwu stressed that its meetings with Salga's political leadership should not be confused with the union "cosying up to the employer".

"We are only meeting them out of courtesy and to hear what it is that they want to do to ensure that municipal workers get decent salary increases. We will meet them carrying the mandate that we have been given by our members," the union said.

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