Security unions urge state to intervene in wage impasse

Security guards who earn between R4,300 and just over R5,000 are demanding that they be paid between R7,500 and R8,500 a month. / LEBOHANG MASHILOANE
Security guards who earn between R4,300 and just over R5,000 are demanding that they be paid between R7,500 and R8,500 a month. / LEBOHANG MASHILOANE

Unions representing security guards have urged the government to intervene in their protracted mediation process with their employers to avoid a full-blown security sector strike.

Yesterday, unions entered a second day of mediation in an attempt to prevent a full-blown strike after wage negotiations collapsed with employers on September 19. Security guards who earn between R4,300 and just over R5,000, depending on their grades, are demanding that they be paid between R7,500 and R8,500 a month.

The employer has offered 1.1%, which translates to 23 cents per hour across the board. Unions have described the wage offer by their bosses as pathetic and unacceptable.

Democratised Transport Logistics and Allied Workers' Union (Detawu) general secretary Vusi Ntshangase said all unions in the sector were united in their demand for a living wage.

"If there is no agreement today, we will declare a dispute at the CCMA [Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration] for the issuing of a strike certificate. So far, employers have not shifted on their offer of 23 cents an hour. That is how difficult the process is," Ntshangase said.

Ntshangase warned that banks, malls, factories and mines would be left unguarded if the strike was to take place.

"That is why we call upon even government through minister of labour Thulas Nxesi. to treat this issue as serious and put some sense into the heads of employers. South Africa cannot afford such massive disruption," Ntshangase said.

Among the unions involved in the negotiations are South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, South African National Security Officers Forum, Kungwini Amalgamated Workers Union and Democratic Union of Security Workers.

About 420,000 workers could go on strike if no deal is reached.

In 2006, more than 60 people were killed during a six-month-long security industry strike.

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