salaryThe Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) concluded the first round of the 2015/2016 wage negotiations today, in Johannesburg.

“While negotiations have been ongoing, South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has not made any substantive changes to their original proposal. IMATU simply cannot accept an opening wage offer of less than inflation. 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. South Africans are already facing increased costs in personal income tax, a 12.69% approved increase in electricity prices and a 80.5c/l increase in the fuel levy. SALGA will have to adopt a more realistic understanding of escalating living costs before these negotiations can meaningfully move forward,” stated IMATU General Secretary, Johan Koen.

IMATU’s wage demand, as submitted to the Employer, is as follows:

1. An across the board salary increase of 15% or R4 000, whichever is the greater.
2. The current minimum wage to increase to R9 625.
3. A single year agreement only.
4. All benefits, allowances and conditions of service to also increase by 15%.
5. The housing allowance to be increased to R1 800 per month and be extended to all employees (irrespective of whether they own or rent a house).

SALGA has countered these demands with a proposal of a three year wage agreement, starting with a 4.4% across the board increase in year one, followed by a percentage increase equal to the average annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 0.25% in years two and three respectively.

Workers battling high prices and high debt levels are also facing declines in their disposable incomes. Less disposable income means that consumers have less money to spend on goods and services which in turn hampers economic growth and job creation.

On 29 August 2014, National Treasury released the 2014 Local Government Revenue and Expenditure Report (LGRER) which sets out the financial statements of municipalities on a consolidated basis. The Auditor General also released its Consolidated General Report on the Audit Outcomes of Local Government on 30 July 2014.

“IMATU believes that there is little excuse for municipalities failing to collect outstanding revenue from provincial and national government, SOE’s and private businesses. These documents clearly show that if municipalities and municipal entities were to actively recoup some of the uncollected revenue (estimated at around R94 billion for the 2013/2014 financial year), address unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and lower reliance on consultants, wage demands could easily be met,” concluded Koen.

IMATU understands that productivity in local government must be addressed. To this end we have been working closely with the Department of Cooperative Governance (COGTA) as well as the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) in the development of the Public Administration Act, as well as new Draft Municipal Regulations which aim to introduce new norms, standards and ethics in the delivery of services to the public and root out corruption. IMATU is committed to realising social transformation through a sustainable local government and will continue to roll out its Let’s get Local Government Working Campaign.

While IMATU remains committed to the negotiation process, we have a mandate to ensure that the rights of our members are protected and their salaries keep pace with the rising costs of living.