'No' to Cape Town's application to be exempt from state wage agreement
The SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC) on Monday dismissed an application by the City of Cape Town to be exempted from implementing recent government salary wage hikes.
The city sought exemption from the recently concluded multiyear salary wage agreement, which was concluded on September 15. In particular, it wanted exemption from the clauses which gave employees a 3.5% salary increase with effect from July 1, and one-off payments of R4,000 for workers earning R12,500 or less, and R3,000 for employees earning R12,501 or more.
The city sought exemption for the 2021/22 financial year.
The application was heard on November 5 and the arbitrator passed its ruling on Monday.
In its submission, the city said the wage agreement would cost it an additional R477.5m, and said it could only pay that amount from amounts already allocated to other projects.
The two unions, the Independent Municipal and Allied Workers' Union (Imatu) and SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), opposed the application.
In its submissions, Samwu said the argument provided by the city that it would have to curtail other services to its inhabitants to meet the wage agreement was unjustifiable.
Samwu said the city had passed a budget with a surplus and could implement the wage agreement without any cuts.
It said the employees provided their labour and should be remunerated for such.
Imatu said the city had no intention of honouring the collective wage agreement and went on record publicly in this regard.
It said to grant an exemption in such circumstances would lead to undermining of collective bargaining.
From the onset, the City of Cape Town sought to deny municipal workers salary increases this year.SA Municipal Workers' Union
The council declined the city’s application on Monday, stating that granting an exemption, where no exceptional circumstances exist — and the city has the funds available to meet its obligations — would undermine collective bargaining.
Samwu welcomed the judgment.
“From the onset, the City of Cape Town sought to deny municipal workers salary increases this year, going as far as pre-empting the negotiations by arguing that parties in the SALGBC should negotiate a zero-percent salary increase for municipal workers,” Samwu said.
It said the decision by the arbitrator to decline the application was a huge victory for the 30,000 workers employed by the city.
“Workers have been subjected to the ruthlessness of the employer who sought to collapse collective bargaining in the sector, an employer that sought to define itself outside the employer body, the South African Local Government Bargaining Council.”
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