A ruling on SALGA’s point in limine, in the conciliation proceedings on the wage negotiations was made on Friday 3 June 2011.

The finding cleared the way for IMATU to continue with the salary and wage dispute.

SALGA raised a technical point claiming that the trade unions do not have the right to re-open wage negotiations. According to SALGA’s interpretation of the escape clause, the average CPI for the period 01 February 2009 to 31 January 2011 must be calculated in order to determine whether the CPI has fallen below 5%. Additionally, SALGA calculated that the average CPI for this period is 5.53% and therefore that the escape clause in the collective agreement cannot be invoked.

The commissioner ruled that SALGA’s point in limine be dismissed and the conciliation should continue.

IMATU requested that the conciliation be set down to continue without delay and we have called on SALGA to table their counter proposals to our wage demands. Should the parties deadlock during this process, a certificate of non-resolution will be issued, thus entitling the trade unions to issue a notice of strike action. IMATU and SAMWU’s demand is an increase of eighteen per cent (18%) provided that the minimum cash adjustment is not less than R2 000, with effect from 1July 2011.SALGA has made no official counter offer at this stage. (SALGA has however indicated, informally, that they are open to discussions on raising the actual CPI of 4.08% to 5% plus 2% improvement. This would result in a wage increase of 7%, for the 2011/2012 financial year).

The matter is further complicated as SALGA also lodged a dispute relating to the interpretation and application of the wage collective agreement, on the same foundation as the point in limine that was raised at the conciliation.

That dispute was set down for arbitration on 21 June 2011. Evidence was heard and written heads of argument must be filed on 24 June 2011. SALGA based their case on the same grounds as the point in limine that they raised at the conciliation proceedings of the salary and wage dispute.

The Rules of the Bargaining Council order that the Arbitrator has 14 days from the day he receives heads of arguments to make his award. IMATU informed the arbitrator that the conciliation for the salary and wage dispute has been set down for 12 July 2011 and it is very important that an outcome be given before then. The Arbitrator indicated that he will keep this in mind and will deliver an award as soon as possible. The parties have so far been unable to move from their starting positions and are still very far apart on the issues.In addition, SALGA’s failure to table an official counter offer greatly increases the possibility of a deadlock in the conciliation process. There is for that reason a strong possibility that IMATU will soon be called upon to take a position on whether or not to engage in strike action.

IMATU is currently gauging the willingness of its members to participate in strike action and obtaining an indication of the length of time IMATU members would be prepared to engage in strike action.

Regions are convening special Regional committee meetings for this purpose