National Wage Negotiations in the Local Government Sector Edging Towards a Facilitator’s Proposal to Break Impasse

The third round of salary and wage negotiations in the Local Government sector were held in Durban on 3 and 4 June 2021.

IMATU has been locked in negotiations with the employer, SALGA, since April 2021.

The negotiations are being conducted against the backdrop of many municipal employees being under extreme financial pressure due to escalating living costs and the impact of the pandemic on their families as well as many municipalities finding itself under financial pressure.

The negotiating parties have fully ventilated their respective positions before the facilitator of the negotiations, Ms Naledi Bisiwe, in an attempt to identify common areas for possible settlement. The parties are still at loggerheads over a number of issues, but areas of possible settlement have been canvassed with the facilitator.

The issues that are the subject matter of the negotiations are:
• An appropriate and affordable across the board increase (the employer is currently offering a below inflation increase, whilst IMATU has revised its position to a 7% across the board increase);
• The duration of an agreement (the unions have demanded a one-year agreement, whilst the employer favours a 3-year agreement);
• The impact of the across the board increases on benefits payable to employees;
• A new exemption procedure that will streamline the process for financially distressed municipalities to apply for exemption from the wage agreement;
• An “Opt-Out” clause that will allow any of parties to exercise an option to renegotiate the wage agreement in very specific circumstance, for example a situation similar to the current state of disaster;
• Improvement on maternity benefits, paternity benefits and the regulation of vulnerable EPWP workers.

The facilitator has indicated she will issue a facilitator’s proposal, identifying the terms of a possible settlement, to the parties and the sector by Tuesday, 8 June 2021.

IMATU will be convening a special meeting of its National Executive Council on Wednesday, 9 June 2021, to consider the anticipated facilitator’s proposal.  Thereafter IMATU will be consulting its members for a final mandate.

IMATU is hopeful that an amicable settlement can be reached, and an agreement be concluded.

Issued by IMATU National Office