Make-or-break time: Local government wage fight heads for arbitration

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SAMWU is demanding a R4 000 salary increase across the board and a sectoral minimum wage of R15 000.
SAMWU is demanding a R4 000 salary increase across the board and a sectoral minimum wage of R15 000.
Misheck Makora
Two days of arbitration at the South African Local Government Bargaining Council between the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union will start later this month, according to a notice that Fin24 has seen.

SAMWU declared a dispute with SALGA, who represents local government in wage talks under the auspices of the bargaining council.

This triggered an arbitration process aimed at breaking the deadlock.

The arbitration is set to take place on Monday 19 July and Tuesday 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.

While the in-person hearings will be compliant with Covid-19 lockdown regulations, additional delegates will be able to connect to the hearings virtually.

However, the discussions themselves will be closed to the general public.

Before the breakdown of talks on Friday, SAMWU demanded a R4 000 salary increase across the board and a sectoral minimum wage of R15 000.

The bargaining council proposed a three-year wage agreement, a 4% salary increase in the first year and with projected CPI minus 1% in the outer years.

A SAMWU statement said SALGA could not use Covid-19 as an excuse to give workers a 2.8% salary increase, which the union termed as "peanuts".

The union added that municipal workers should not be used as scapegoat when workers demand decent increases. 

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