We, the delegates, representing 160 000 workers have gathered in Johannesburg for the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) National Collective Bargaining under the theme “advancing and defending our gains towards a comprehensive social security.”
This is the first constitutional meeting of the union following the successful 12th National Congress which was held in December 2021. Earlier on in January this year, the union laid to rest its General Secretary, Comrade Koena Ramotlou, may his soul continue resting in peace!
It was this 12th National Congress that resolved that the union should convene this Conference prior to the commencement of salary and wage negotiations as the current agreements in both the South African Local Government (SALGBC) and the Amanzi Bargaining Council (ABC) are coming to an end in June this year.
We are meeting here just a few days after we woke up to the terrible news of the bowing of the Isilo Samabandla, King Goodwill Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu. Conference sends its heartfelt condolences to the entire nation of AmaZulu during this period of mourning.
This Conference is also held when students throughout the country are currently protesting for access to tertiary education. Conference delegates are saddened at the death of a City of Tshwane municipal employee, Mthokozisi Ntumba, who was shot and killed by the police. We send our heartfelt condolences to the Ntumba family.
Conference stands in solidarity with the students, we are of the view that these are legitimate demands by students and as such SAMWU should be seen marching side by side with the students. We are convinced that free tertiary education will be the single largest salary increase that workers will receive.
This Conference is held when millions throughout the world have lost their lives as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Thousands of municipal workers have also contracted the virus with hundreds having have lost their lives. We once more send our heartfelt condolences to all workers who have lost their lives.
We should however be optimistic that government has begun rolling out vaccines in phases, beginning with healthcare workers. As the second phase, which will be inclusive of municipal workers approach, we urge all municipal workers to participate in this programme.
We however stress that no workers, who decides against being vaccinated should be forced to participate. This programme as announced by the State President is voluntary and as such, no worker must be forced or coerced.
On salary and Wage Negotiations
The union organizes workers who are employed under the auspices of the South African Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) which is inclusive of all the country’s 257 municipalities and their entities and the Amanzi Bargaining Council which is inclusive of the country’s 12 Water Boards.
Salary and wage agreements in both sectors will lapse as of 30 June 2021. In preparation for the commencement of negotiations in these sectors and for the purposes of working towards an inclusive collective agreement, Conference has therefore resolved to formulate demands for both sectors as follows;
1. A single year agreement
Conference is of the view that workers can no longer be tied to multiyear agreements which are not in their interest and most importantly agreements which do not fundamentally change their lives. The Conference further believes that single year agreements would be in the interest of labour stability in the sector given the fact that the future is uncertain.
Conference is of the view that a single year agreement will allow the union to be constantly in touch with workers, thus ensuring the principle of “worker controlled”. A single year agreement will also ensure that workers do not lose out on their real salary increase as a result of inflation.
For this reason, Conference has resolved that in the upcoming salary and wage negotiations, the union should negotiate a single year agreement.
2. Salary increase
The Conference is alive to the fact that there the salary gap in the sector is huge and as such needs to be narrowed. More importantly, the food basket, public transport keeps increasing.
In wanting to improve the standard of living for workers in both sectors, Conference has resolved that the union should negotiate a R4000 salary increase across the board.
3. Sectoral minimum wage
In our quest to achieve a decent and living wage in the sector and to improve the standard of living for workers, Conference has resolved that R15 000 would be reasonable and appropriate for all workers in the sector, this bearing in mind that of all categories of government employees, municipal workers are the least paid.
4. Housing Allowance
Currently, the sector has “homeowners’ allowance” which is only given to workers who are servicing bonds with financial institutions. Given the economic situation that many our members find themselves in, they do not qualify for government housing and are always rejected for finance by the banks. If the current status quo is maintained, many of our members will die in their shacks.
Conference has looked at what is currently applicable in other spheres of government, wherein workers are given over R2000 as housing allowance, irrespective of whether they are servicing a bond or not.
As delegates to this Conference, we have therefore resolved that the union should put forward a demand of R3500 for all workers in both sectors. In addition, the union will also be demanding that municipalities make available serviced stands for workers to build their own houses.
5. Medical aid
As delegates to this Conference, we have noted that workers spend more money on medical aid, particularly low earning workers.
Conference has therefore resolved that for low earning workers, the union should demand 80% medical aid contribution by employers while workers will contribute 20%. In addition, the union will also be demanding the scrapping of capping medical aid contribution by employers in both sectors.
Furthermore, Conference has resolved that in instances of death or retirement, workers should be given a paid-up certificate, meaning that the employer will continue with contributions towards medical aids.
6. Parental leave
In order to encourage early childhood development and allowing parents to develop bonds with their children, Conference has resolved that the union should demand 6 months maternity leave with full pay for mothers and 1 month maternity leave with full pay for fathers.
Parental leave shall include child bearing, adoption of a child and stillborn.
7. Pension funds
Conference notes the importance of pensions as deferred payments for workers. This enables workers to continue having an income when they retire.
In order to ensure that worker’s quality of life does not become worse after retirement, Conference has resolved that the union should demand a 25% employer contribution towards pension.
In addition, workers should be allowed to voluntarily contribution towards savings
8. Danger / risk allowance
Conference has noted that our members in both sectors are exposed to various hazards in the workplace. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that workers are not safe in the workplace, given the high number of infections and deaths in the sector.
As delegates to this Conference, we have therefore resolved that the union should demand an ex-gratia payment of from the time that the country declared a State of Disaster. This amount has been quantified at R3000 per month.
On EPWP and CWP
The Conference has taken stock of the union’s 11th National Congress resolutions which among others resolved that Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) are exploitative in nature and providers of cheap labour to municipalities.
Municipalities are currently not filling vacancies as they are using EPWP and Community Works Programme (CWP) workers to perform functions that are supposed to be performed by municipal workers.
The fact that these workers are performing functions of municipal workers make them municipal employees as they should be treated as such.
As delegates to this Conference, we have therefore resolved that the union should engage EPWP and CWP workers and other COSATU affiliated unions where there are CWP workers with the aim of having a joint programme. The union should also recruit these workers to join SAMWU.
More importantly, as Conference, we have resolved that these workers should be employed on a permanent basis by municipalities. It is the view of this Conference that workers in the sector should enjoy the same conditions of service.
On insourcing of municipal services
This Conference has noted that many municipal services such as cleaning and security are outsourced. Conference is of the view that these are permanent functions that municipalities will need in perpetuity.
The outsourcing of these services has resulted in workers being in precarious working conditions with no job security. Moreover, these workers are paid next to nothing, while the owners of these companies are making millions.
It is common knowledge that these companies inflate their prices as the expense of service delivery.
It is for this reason that Conference has resolved that all these functions be insourced, this will not only save municipalities money but will ensure that these workers have job security and that their conditions of service are aligned to those of all workers in the sector.
As Conference we are convinced that the demands that we will be putting forward in the negotiations are reasonable given the challenges faced by workers in the sector.
We therefore wish our negotiating teams well as they go represent workers in these negotiations. We further send a strong warning to National Treasury which has made itself the enemy of workers to desist from interfering in collective bargaining, otherwise they will know the full might of municipal workers.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
Deputy General Secretary
084 806 4005
National Media Officer
073 710 0356