Beating inflation

Kea' Modimoeng

Kea' Modimoeng

Trade unions are winning the battle with employers to secure wage increases that keep up with rampant inflation.

Trade Union Cosatu is looking at demanding over 12percent increases for workers.

This comes after Solidarity, which represents more than 130000 members, last week signed wage rises of up to 12percent for its members in the fibre and particle sector - 2,1percent above inflation.

Cosatu spokesperson, Patrick Craven, said: "The recent 12percent hike increase achieved by Solidarity should be the very minimum to be accepted in current circumstances. But in their situation this might not be the case as they represent mainly highly paid workers."

He said Cosatu wanted all workers to have a standard of living comparable to what it was in 2007. "We will continue to demand that lowest paid workers get above inflation increases in order to reduce the widening gap between the lowest paid and highest paid workers in South Africa."

Craven said Cosatu would be striving to secure the maximum wage increases across all sectors.

While most sectors are in the middle of wage negotiations, Jabu Maphalala, spokesman for the Chamber of Mines of South Africa, said the organisation did not have any wage negotiations at the moment because agreements with employees are on a two-year cycle that has not ended.

Martin Westcott, managing director of consultancy PE Corporate Services SA, said employers should also give more incentives at a semi-skilled level to boost employee morale.

"Low wages are demoralising and are likely to compromise productivity since workers become more worried about survival than their tasks," he said.

Craven warned that if wages were not increased to keep up with rising food, energy and fuel costs "many workers, particularly the unemployed and casual workers who don't have any bargaining power, will have bleak months ahead".

Cosatu is scheduled to hold a march against rising electricity and fuel prices in Johannesburg tomorrow. - With Xolile Bhengu