The arbitration award of SALGA’s dispute relating to the interpretation and application of the wage collective agreement was decided in IMATU’s favour.

The Arbitrator rejected SALGA’s claim that the trade unions do not have the right to “re-open” wage negotiations as the average CPI for the two year period of 01 February 2009 to 31 January 2011 must be calculated in order to determine whether the CPI has fallen below 5%.

According to SALGA’s calculations, the average CPI for this period is 5.53% and therefore the escape clause cannot be invoked.

 The Arbitrator dismissed this claim and found that the escape clause refers to more than one period i.e. 1 February 2009 to 31 January 2010 and 1 February 2010 to 31 January 2011 respectively.

Accordingly, the trade unions have every right to invoke the escape clause and re-open wage negotiations for the 2011/2012 financial year.

 IMATU finds the following extract from the award of significance:

“It is submitted that the interpretation contended by SALGA is incorrect and that Clause 6.5 should be interpreted to allow for the possibility of re-opening of negotiations on two occasions. This is when the CPI is lower than 5% or higher than 10% for the applicable period mentioned in Clauses 6.2 and 6.3 of the Agreement.

 This interpretation accords the objectives of the LRA. On the one hand, the interpretation contended for by SALGA would not advance Labour Peace or promote orderly collective bargaining and effective dispute resolution because re-opening of negotiations would not be allowed before an unexpected CPI figure has to be implemented”.

Going forward, IMATU will call upon SALGA to deliver their counter offer to our wage demand. Negotiations will commence on 12 July 2011, in conciliation format.

As a reminder, IMATU’s wage demand is the following: An increase of eighteen per cent (18%) provided that the minimum cash adjustment is not less than R2 000 with effect from 1July 2011.