Wage dispute continues

A ruling in respect of SALGA’s point in limine, in the conciliation proceedings on the wage negotiations was made on Friday 3 June 2011.

Earlier, SALGA raised a technical point claiming that the trade unions do not have the right to re-open wage negotiations. According to SALGA’s interpretation of the escape clause, the average CPI for the period 01 February 2009 to 31 January 2011 must be calculated in order to determine whether the CPI has fallen below 5%. Furthermore, SALGA calculated that the average CPI for this period is 5.53% and therefore the escape clause in the collective agreement cannot be invoked.

The commissioner ruled that SALGA’s point in limine is dismissed and the conciliation should continue.

The matter is further complicated as SALGA also lodged a dispute relating to the interpretation and application of the wage collective agreement, on the same basis as the point in limine was raised at the conciliation.

That dispute has already been conciliated and has been set down for arbitration on 21 June 2011. The conciliator did not actually decide on the substance of SALGA’s point in limine. This is because the matter will again have to be decided at the arbitration on 21 June 2011.

IMATU has requested that the conciliation be set down to continue forthwith and we have called on SALGA to table their counter proposals to our wage demands. Should the parties deadlock during this process, a certificate of non-resolution will be issued, thus entitling the trade unions to issue a notice of strike action.

IMATU and SAMWU’s demand is an increase of eighteen per cent (18%) provided that the minimum cash adjustment is not less than R2 000 with effect from 1July 2011.

SALGA has made no official counter offer at this stage.

(SALGA has however indicated, informally, that they are open to discussions on raising the actual CPI of 4.08% to 5% plus 2% improvement. This would result in a wage increase of 7%, for the 2011/2012 financial year).

The parties have so far been unable to move from their starting positions and are still very far apart on the issues.

Moreover, SALGA’s failure to table an official counter offer greatly increases the possibility of a deadlock in the conciliation process. There is therefore a strong possibility that IMATU will soon be called upon to take a position on whether or not to engage in strike action.

IMATU is currently gauging the willingness of its members to participate in possible strike action and obtaining an indication of the length of time IMATU members would be prepared to engage in strike action.

Regions are convening special Regional committee meetings for this purpose.