The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) concluded the first round of wage negotiations today. While IMATU showed its commitment to reach an amicable agreement by dropping its initial demand by 2% the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) maintained its un-accommodative stance of only offering a 4.5% wage increase and the reduction of workers’ benefits.

“While IMATU is disappointed with the sluggish pace of the negotiations thus far, we remain committed to reaching a swift conclusion to the process. The employer however, must move closer to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation percentage in order to positively move forward. In addition we are also very concerned by SALGA’s notification to terminate the main Collective Agreement which protects our members’ conditions of service and organisational rights. Any move to diminish the existing rights of our members will be vehemently opposed,” commented IMATU President Stanley Khoza.

IMATU revised its opening wage increase demand from 15% to 13% and its current negotiation position is;

1. An across the board increase of 13% or R2 000.00, whichever is the greater, for all employees falling under the registered scope of the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC);
2. A minimum wage in the Local Government Sector of R6 000.00 per month
3. The filling of all vacant posts on all Municipal Council approved organograms on a permanent and full time basis.
4. A single year salary and wage collective agreement for the 2012/2013 financial year.

SALGA’s counter proposal remains concerned with agreeing to a multi-year agreement, starting this year with a 4.5% across the board increase. In addition, SALGA is proposing to cap current benefits relating to workers’ medical aid and pension fund contributions.

“It is just unrealistic for SALGA to expect IMATU to take back a less than inflation increase to our members. Treasury has made provision for a 6% wage increase within the public sector and we strongly recommend that SALGA follows suit,” stated IMATU General Secretary, Johan Koen.

“IMATU’s approach to these wage negotiations going forward is to achieve an inflation related increase for our members. Our members, like the majority of South Africans, are really feeling the pinch of unprecedented increases in the costs of electricity, fuel, food and public transport and IMATU needs to ensure that our members’ salaries keep pace with the rising costs of living,” explained Koen.

IMATU believes that the high level of vacancies and skills shortages within local government are still a major cause for concern that must be addressed in this negotiation forum.
IMATU will be preparing for the second round of negotiations scheduled for 30 and 31 May 2012.