The South African Municipal Workers' Union (SAMWU) notes and welcomes the decision by the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) that directs both the City of Ekurhuleni and the Amathole District Municipality to pay workers their salary and wage increases back dated to July 2020.
As per the 3-year salary and wage collective agreement that was signed in 2018, municipal workers were supposed to receive a 6.25% salary increase effective from 01 July 2020. As a result of the interference from both the National Treasury and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), 11 municipalities invoked Clause 11 of the Collective Agreement, essentially applying to be exempted from paying workers what is contractually and legally owed to them.
SAMWU from the onset has been against these exemptions as the motivations and intentions are nothing but a smoke scream to interfere and collapse collective bargaining in the local government sector. We further made known our intentions that we would be opposing any exemption applications and that workers should be paid their salary increases.
In their exemption applications, most municipalities, including the two had cited the Coronavirus pandemic as a reason why they would not be able to pay workers any increases. According to the SALGBC, these municipalities have failed to prove that it is as a result of the pandemic that they would not be paying workers.
The financials of these municipality have further indicated that these municipalities are of sound financial liquidity and as such, they are in a position to pay workers these increases.
The union is therefore vindicated that these applications were meant to comply with directives from both the National Treasury and SALGA to deny workers their increases. This while municipal workers are struggling to keep up with the cost of living, including the rates and taxes that these same municipalities had increased, expecting workers to pay with salaries of 2019.
We will therefore be monitoring these municipalities to ensure that what is legally due to workers is paid over, we further demand that monies which are owed to workers should be paid with interests.
SAMWU will continue fighting for the dismissal of all outstanding exemption applications made by other municipalities. All municipalities that have applied for exemption should to pay workers their salary increases immediately, with interests.