Municipal strike looms after Samwu's wage talks with local govt collapse

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Photo by Misheck Makora
Photo by Misheck Makora
Misheck Makora
  • The South African Municipal Workers union said negotiations at the SA Local Government Bargaining Council had collapsed.
  • The union announced its intention to write to the facilitator and formally declare a dispute.
  • SAMWU said it already balloted 80% of membership nationally and most members voted to strike.



The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) is one step closer to going on strike, after announcing on Friday that wage negotiations in the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) had officially collapsed.

The union said it would write to the bargaining council within the next few days to declare an official dispute, and the matter would then be referred to conciliation processes.

The negotiations took on an adversarial tone last month after Samwu and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union got an offer from the facilitator.

The SALGBC proposed a three-year wage agreement, which included a 4% salary increase in the first year of the agreement along with projected CPI minus 1% in the outer years of the agreement, a total freeze on benefits in the first year, and for the sectoral minimum wage to increase only in line with salaries.  

Samwu's demands included a single year salary and wage agreement, a R4 000 salary increase for all workers negotiating at the SALGBC, a R15 000 sectoral minimum wage, a R 3 500 housing allowance and an 80% employer medical aid contribution.

In a statement released on Friday, Samwu said it would not entertain talks with the employer if they maintained their position. The union requested a certificate on non-resolution "paving way for a nationwide strike action in all of the country's 257 municipalities and their entities".

"We went into these negotiations to demand decent salary and wage increases for the country's municipal workers. There is, however, no need to continue talking with an employer that is rigid and positional and not willing to compromise on their position," the statement said.

Samwu said more than 80% of its members national were balloted and preliminary results showed that workers in their majority voted to go on strike, meaning "that these negotiations should be concluded on the streets".

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