The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is very concerned going into the second round of wage negotiations in Durban today. While IMATU showed its commitment to reach an amicable agreement by dropping its initial wage demand by 2%, the employer, South African Local Government Association (SALGA) remains seemingly un-accommodative; offering a below inflation wage increase of 4.5%, the reduction of workers’ benefits and the termination of the main Collective Agreement.

“While IMATU is committed to reaching a swift conclusion to this negotiation process, it is very difficult for us to take the employer seriously when they plead poverty at the negotiating table yet can afford to give some municipal managers a 20% wage increase. Not only are most municipal managers receiving salaries 1000 times higher than the lowest paid municipal employee, but they are taking home a salary in excess of our President’s. With many tiers of local government still plagued with poor supply chain management, poor financial controls, bribery and corruption – how can these managerial salary increases be justified?” stated IMATU President Stanley Khoza.

IMATU is also gravely perturbed by SALGA’s notification to terminate the main Collective Agreement which protects its members’ organisational rights and conditions of service such as working hours, overtime rates, maternity leave and sick leave. It would appear that SALGA effectively wishes to ignore all the time, money and resources that went into the establishment of the Collective Agreements and start again, thereby causing all parties to incur these costs again, which would clearly be an unnecessary further financial burden on both the employer and the unions.

“This is not only an example of SALGA negotiating in bad faith, but places the potential of a swift and fair negotiation process in jeopardy. It is just unrealistic for SALGA to expect IMATU to take back a less than inflation increase to our members and as far as the notice to terminate the main Collective Agreement, any move to diminish the existing rights of our members will be vehemently opposed” commented IMATU General Secretary Johan Koen.

IMATU’s current negotiation position includes;

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
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.

“IMATU’s approach to these wage negotiations going forward is to achieve an inflation related increase for its members who, like the majority of South Africans, are really feeling the pinch of unprecedented increases in the costs of electricity, fuel, food and public transport. In addition, we are currently seeking legal advice on SALGA’s notification to terminate the main Collective Agreement,” concluded Koen.