ARE WE HEADING FOR A STRIKE…AGAIN?

A ruling on SALGA’s point in limine, in the conciliation proceedings on the wage negotiations was made on Friday 3 June 2011.

The finding cleared the way for IMATU to continue with the salary and wage dispute.

SALGA raised a technical point claiming that the trade unions do not have the right to re-open wage negotiations. According to SALGA’s interpretation of the escape clause, the average CPI for the period 01 February 2009 to 31 January 2011 must be calculated in order to determine whether the CPI has fallen below 5%. Additionally, SALGA calculated that the average CPI for this period is 5.53% and therefore that the escape clause in the collective agreement cannot be invoked.

The commissioner ruled that SALGA’s point in limine be dismissed and the conciliation should continue.

IMATU requested that the conciliation be set down to continue without delay and we have called on SALGA to table their counter proposals to our wage demands. Should the parties deadlock during this process, a certificate of non-resolution will be issued, thus entitling the trade unions to issue a notice of strike action. IMATU and SAMWU’s demand is an increase of eighteen per cent (18%) provided that the minimum cash adjustment is not less than R2 000, with effect from 1July 2011.SALGA has made no official counter offer at this stage. (SALGA has however indicated, informally, that they are open to discussions on raising the actual CPI of 4.08% to 5% plus 2% improvement. This would result in a wage increase of 7%, for the 2011/2012 financial year).

The matter is further complicated as SALGA also lodged a dispute relating to the interpretation and application of the wage collective agreement, on the same foundation as the point in limine that was raised at the conciliation.

That dispute was set down for arbitration on 21 June 2011. Evidence was heard and written heads of argument must be filed on 24 June 2011. SALGA based their case on the same grounds as the point in limine that they raised at the conciliation proceedings of the salary and wage dispute.

The Rules of the Bargaining Council order that the Arbitrator has 14 days from the day he receives heads of arguments to make his award. IMATU informed the arbitrator that the conciliation for the salary and wage dispute has been set down for 12 July 2011 and it is very important that an outcome be given before then. The Arbitrator indicated that he will keep this in mind and will deliver an award as soon as possible. The parties have so far been unable to move from their starting positions and are still very far apart on the issues.In addition, SALGA’s failure to table an official counter offer greatly increases the possibility of a deadlock in the conciliation process. There is for that reason a strong possibility that IMATU will soon be called upon to take a position on whether or not to engage in strike action.

IMATU is currently gauging the willingness of its members to participate in strike action and obtaining an indication of the length of time IMATU members would be prepared to engage in strike action.

Regions are convening special Regional committee meetings for this purpose

“THE TURN AROUND STRATEGY IS IMPLEMENTED IMMEDIATELY”- PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA

PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA ADDRESSING PARLIAMENT

On 14 June 2011 President Jacob Zuma addressed Parliament on the occasion of the Budget Vote Debate of the Presidency. We have selected some key areas of his speech, relevant to the long awaited “Turn around Strategy” of CoGTA.

“On 18 May we held the fourth democratic local government elections. The elections illustrated the importance that South Africans are beginning to place on this sphere of government, and the depth of their concerns with service delivery and municipal accountability. The political parties, the citizens, the Independent Electoral Commission and government departments, worked together to produce one of South Africa’s most exciting and competitive local government elections. Local government became everybody’s business and we have to maintain that collaborative spirit for us to succeed. We have emerged from the elections with a changed local government landscape.

There are eight instead of six metropolitan municipalities, with district municipalities decreasing from 46 to 44, while local municipalities decreased from 231 to 226. Our goal is to achieve a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system by 2014 in terms of the delivery agreement for local government. With the election behind us and new councils inaugurated, now is the time to focus firmly on implementing the Local Government Turnaround Strategy. The strategy provides a number of immediate solutions. We have to address the immediate financial and administrative problems in some municipalities. The findings from the Auditor General’s report for the 2010/11 financial year indicate that of the 237 municipal audit reports currently available, only 57 municipalities showed some improvement. Some remained unchanged while others have actually regressed.

Efforts to strengthen municipal audits continue through Operation Clean Audit, with a target of clean and unqualified reports by 2014. We also plan to tighten and improve the supply chain management system to eliminate possibilities of fraud and corruption. Most importantly, infrastructure backlogs should be reduced significantly. Citizens must have access to affordable universal basic services such as water, housing, electricity, sanitation, refuse removal and others. To better coordinate and support the provision of housing at local level, government has begun to accredit metros and top performing district municipalities to perform the housing function in support of the Department of Human Settlements.

In March 2011, six Metros and two district municipalities were accredited to deliver housing programmes. By March this year, two hundred and thirty four municipalities had filled the municipal manager posts, representing 82% of filled posts nationally. A total of 242 chief financial officer posts have also been filled, representing 85% of filled posts nationally. A total of 218 technical services or engineer posts were filled representing 77 percent of the filled posts nationally, while 120 municipalities have filled development and town planning posts. This should contribute positively to an improvement in the operations of local government. The turnaround strategy will help us to restore the confidence of citizens in our municipalities. They are key institutions through which government will improve the lives of our people Our focus on local government is part of a broader campaign to improve efficiency in government and to build a performance-oriented developmental state. It was for this reason that we established the performance monitoring and evaluation as well as national planning functions in the Presidency.

Substantial progress has been made by the two Ministries. Last Thursday, the National Planning Commission released its first set of outputs, a diagnostic document analysing the key challenges that confront us in fighting poverty and inequality. The report forms the basis for a national dialogue on how to fix the problems raised in the report. Over the next three months, the commission will lead a public engagement process. We call on South Africans from all walks of life and from all organised formations to contribute to the development of a national plan for the country. Only with the support and active participation of all South Africans can we work towards a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society”

  • Mopresitente Jacob Zuma o ile a hlalosa ka kakaretso ka ga seterathetsi sa tsa lefapha la segae.  Re tlilo go letsibisa ka bonakwana ka tsa ditshelete le tsa peakanyo le mathata ao a akareditsego memasepala e mengwe.

Mopresutente o rile mo polelong ya gagwe ya tsa ditshelete, ge a e tsebisa ka palamenteng.  Mominisetara wa motshwara-o-swere wa lefapa la koporaite Government, Nathi Mthethwa, o rile lefapa la selegae le tlo etela memasepala kamoka ya tsa lefapha  la tsa selegae. Mathata ao a lego mo go memasepala e mengwe, yeo e swanago le dikoloto le mathata ao badudi ba lebanego nao ka sebaka se.

Gona bjale memasepala e kolota ditshelete tseo di lekanago dimilione tse masometshelapedi tsa diranta tseo e lego tsa direlo-se-legae.

  • President Jacob Zuma het aangekondig dat die omkeer strategie vir plaaslike regering onmiddellik ingestel gaan word in ‘n poging om die finansiële en administratiewe probleme in sommige munisipaliteite op te los. Hy het die begrotingsrede van die Presidensie in die Nasionale Regering gelewer.

Die waarnemende Minister van Koöperatiewe Regering, Nathi Mthethwa, het gister gesê sy departement sal alle plaaslike munisipaliteite besoek om die omvang van skuld en uitdagings vas te stel waarmee hulle te kampe het. Tans word munisipaliteite minstens 62-miljoen rand vir dienste geskuld.

SALGA LOSE TECHNICAL POINT IN WAGE DISPUTE

 

Wage dispute continues

A ruling in respect of SALGA’s point in limine, in the conciliation proceedings on the wage negotiations was made on Friday 3 June 2011.

Earlier, SALGA raised a technical point claiming that the trade unions do not have the right to re-open wage negotiations. According to SALGA’s interpretation of the escape clause, the average CPI for the period 01 February 2009 to 31 January 2011 must be calculated in order to determine whether the CPI has fallen below 5%. Furthermore, SALGA calculated that the average CPI for this period is 5.53% and therefore the escape clause in the collective agreement cannot be invoked.

The commissioner ruled that SALGA’s point in limine is dismissed and the conciliation should continue.

The matter is further complicated as SALGA also lodged a dispute relating to the interpretation and application of the wage collective agreement, on the same basis as the point in limine was raised at the conciliation.

That dispute has already been conciliated and has been set down for arbitration on 21 June 2011. The conciliator did not actually decide on the substance of SALGA’s point in limine. This is because the matter will again have to be decided at the arbitration on 21 June 2011.

IMATU has requested that the conciliation be set down to continue forthwith and we have called on SALGA to table their counter proposals to our wage demands. Should the parties deadlock during this process, a certificate of non-resolution will be issued, thus entitling the trade unions to issue a notice of strike action.

IMATU and SAMWU’s demand is an increase of eighteen per cent (18%) provided that the minimum cash adjustment is not less than R2 000 with effect from 1July 2011.

SALGA has made no official counter offer at this stage.

(SALGA has however indicated, informally, that they are open to discussions on raising the actual CPI of 4.08% to 5% plus 2% improvement. This would result in a wage increase of 7%, for the 2011/2012 financial year).

The parties have so far been unable to move from their starting positions and are still very far apart on the issues.

Moreover, SALGA’s failure to table an official counter offer greatly increases the possibility of a deadlock in the conciliation process. There is therefore a strong possibility that IMATU will soon be called upon to take a position on whether or not to engage in strike action.

IMATU is currently gauging the willingness of its members to participate in possible strike action and obtaining an indication of the length of time IMATU members would be prepared to engage in strike action.

Regions are convening special Regional committee meetings for this purpose.

“IT’s TIME TO PRODUCE AND DELIVER…”

The Local Government elections were conducted successfully and fairly and IMATU wishes to thank all Mayors, Mayoral Committees, and Councillors for their service to communities during the past term of office.

We realise that the public call on service delivery has never been as urgent as it is now.

IMATU is not a neutral observer in the quest for improved service delivery to all levels of the community. In complex, plural societies such as ours, political rhetoric has to make way for performance in local government service delivery.

IMATU committed itself and its members to co-operative local government as a co-signatory to the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs’ (CGTA) “stakeholder declaration”.

With the tabling of the amendments to the Municipal Systems Bill in March 2011, the Department has nailed its colours to the mast demanding more professionalism from municipalities, deepened accountability, and commitment to obligations from senior officials and Councillors.  Key role players in the community such as IMATU will demand compliance from the elective.

“We call on all elected councillors and mayors to extend the fight against eradication and removal of corrupt employees and councillors. We pledge our support to government to permanently clean up municipalities from nepotism, corruption, and fraud. We are ready to join hands with the Minister, Councillors and employees of municipalities to ensure social transformation through sustainable Local Government “, says IMATU’s National President Mr. Stanley Khoza.

IMATU’s General Secretary, Mr. Johan Koen, joins IMATU’s National President in thanking candidates of all the political parties who participated fairly in the local government elections.

“We support our federation Fedusa in congratulating the IEC for their careful planning and efficient service. IEC officials, staff and volunteers should be commended for their swift counting, capturing and validating of ballot results. Now that voters have made their mark, political parties and municipal councillors will need to start delivering on the promises they made during their election campaigns,” said Koen on Friday at IMATU’s National Office.

WAGE DISPUTE CONCILIATION POSTPONED

 The conciliation process in the dispute over wage negotiations, scheduled for 19 May 2011 has been postponed until 1 June 2011. The postponement was ordered by the Conciliator, Prof A Rycroft following SALGA’s request for additional time to secure proper legal representation. The Conciliator granted SALGA’s request, stating that he wanted both the trade unions and SALGA to be legally represented given the magnitude and complexity of the points in limine raised by SALGA.

SALGA raised a technical point claiming that the trade unions do not have the right to re-open wage negotiations. According to SALGA’s interpretation of the escape clause, the average CPI for the period 01 February 2009 to 31 January 2011 must be calculated in order to determine whether the CPI has fallen below 5%. According the SALGA’s calculations, the average CPI for this period is 5.53% and therefore the escape clause cannot be invoked. It was pointed out by the Conciliator that SALGA ought to have foreseen the necessity for legal representation seeing as the points in limine were in fact raised by SALGA. The Conciliator nevertheless indicated that he wanted all sides to be equally represented as it would ensure that the viewpoints of all the parties would be properly ventilated.

The Conciliator however made it clear that the matter will definitely proceed on 1 June 2011, and that no further postponements would be allowed.

SUSPENDED STRIKE- IEC WELCOMES IMATU’s CONDUCT

SAMWU has “suspended” its national strike, originally scheduled for Friday 13 May 2011.

IMATU members are however advised to be vigilant in the run-up period before the municipal elections take place on 18 May 2011.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) briefed trade unions on Tuesday 10 May 2011 on the election process and welcomed IMATU’s decision not to participate in industrial action prior to the municipal elections.

‘We thank IMATU for being considerate, responsible and co-operative in ensuring that people will be able to exercise their democratic rights on 18 May 2011”, said the CEO of the IEC  Dr. Brigalia Bam at the media briefing held at Election House, Centurion on Tuesday.

Dispute conciliated later

The dispute that the Unions declared in terms of wage negotiations is going to be conciliated on 19 May 2011.

IMATU will only be able to participate in industrial action after a certificate of non- resolution of the dispute has been issued and after seven (7) days’ notice has been given (after the issuing of the certificate).

IMATU is advised that SAMWU intends to strike over issues such as the proposed amendments to the Municipal Systems Bill.  IMATU does not share the position of SAMWU on issues such as the proposed amendments to the Municipal Systems Bill.

“Regions are therefore urged to advise all structures that IMATU is not going to participate in this action”, said IMATU’s General Secretary, Johan Koen.

IMATU REACTS TO SAMWU’s INTENDED STRIKE ACTION

Strike action in local government (Photo:IMATU)

In reaction to the threat of Samwu to embark on a “massive national strike” on Friday 13 May 2011, IMATU categorically states the following;

  • The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union, IMATU represents some 70 000 municipal employees in the municipal sector, nationally
  • IMATU has also signed the notification to the employer’s organisation Salga, indicating that we are in dispute with the national employer regarding wage increases for the 2011/12 financial year
  • IMATU takes note of the intention of Samwu to commence with strike action on Friday and emphasize that each trade union’s decisions on industrial action are based on their union’s sovereign directive(s)
  • IMATU will not join Samwu on Friday in any strike action
  •  IMATU will not intimidate any organisation nor be intimidated by any party from the municipal industry or elsewhere to participate in strike action, stay-aways, “work-to-rule” or other forms of work-stoppages 
  • IMATU will not tolerate any form of intimidation of our members during Samwu’s industrial action and we will protect our members’ interest at all costs
  • IMATU-although we are in dispute with the national employer, remains committed to following the dispute resolution procedure of the SALGBC 
  • IMATU recognises the existence of other methods and avenues of dispute resolution to deal with matters relating to the management of local government and we are committed to ensure proper service delivery during the Samwu strike

IMATU REACTS ON VIOLENT DEATH AT SETSOTO LOCAL MUNICIPALITY

Mass action in Setsoto Local Municipality (Photo: Independent newspapers)

IMATU has learned with shock and disgust about the death of a member of the public, Mr Andries Tetane in the demonstrations against service delivery in Ficksburg. 

“We, at all stages condemn incidents where violence forms part of public protests but equally expect the guardians of law and order to act with the utmost care where people’s emotions get the better of them”, says the General Secretary of IMATU, Mr Johan Koen.  

IMATU’s local branch chairperson Willem de Klerk described the mood in the Setsoto local municipality as “extremely tense” on Friday.

“Shots can be heard and smoke billows from the buildings which were set alight earlier this morning. The administration of the municipality has come to a standstill, they set alight the diesel depot and some of the municipal vehicles”, reported de Klerk to IMATU’s National Office.

IMATU demanded the security of our members form the Municipal Manager, Mr Bafana Mthembu, who replied that “no employer can do that”.

IMATU advised our members to assess the situation carefully before they enter any municipal premises and to be aware of police operations at all times.

IMATU also echoes the commentary of the Institute of Security Studies’ Mr Johan Burger who advised us that “it was the South African police’s role to maintain public order and protect law-abiding and disciplined citizens and to refrain from using excessive force”. His reaction to IMATU’s questions about the police’s conduct in a civil matter was “shocking”.

IMATU supports the advice of Mr Burger that the police should be seen to act with constraint in protection of the public, our members and property of the municipality.

IMATU reserve our rights to advise our members of the implications of a drastic change in working conditions by the intended integration of Metropolitan Police to the South African Police Service, against the backdrop of the alleged killing of a civilian by members of the South African Police Service.

“We call on those involved in marches to remain disciplined and to refrain from provoking or insulting the police. We all have a duty to the community and the municipality’s employees to curb our emotions a little more than a month before municipal elections”, says IMATU’s Johan Koen.

WAGE NEGOTIATIONS TO BE RE-OPENED FOR 2011/12

(Photo: IMATU)

Wage negotiations will be re-opened for the 2011/12 fiancial year. 

The parties to the SALGBC were for some time unable to finalize the salary and wage increase for the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012.

Subsequently the parties representing labour in the Bargaining Council notified SALGA that they intend to re-open the wage negotiations, in terms of clause 6.5 of the Salary and Wage Collective Agreement.

The agreement entitles any party to re-open the negotiations if the average CPI falls below 5% or is higher than 10%. The average CPI, as provided by Statistics South Africa, is 4.08 %.

It was announced on Friday 8 April 2011 that IMATU and Samwu has joined forces in a “joint trade union wage demand” of 18% or R 2000, whichever is the greater.

The parties to the negotiations have also decided that negotiations must be finalised by 6 May 2011.

eTHEKWINI METRO MUNICIPALITY LOSE THE BATTLE OF EQUAL PAY IN COURT

National municipal legislation in 2000 required municipalities to disestablish and to merge with other municipalities in order to function as more effective service delivery units. 46 local authorities in the greater Durban area were compelled to amalgamate and formed the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. This resulted in different employees performing the same function while being paid differently.

This disparity created frustration because employees felt that they were not remunerated equally compared with other employees who performed the same function at the same municipality. IMATU and the municipality attempted to resolve the issues and entered into negotiations. An agreement was reached which resulted in the conclusion of the Divisional Conditions of Service Collective Agreement.

The municipality implemented the terms of the agreement during April 2007. After the implementation, it became apparent that the collective agreement did not adequately address the disparity and that some IMATU members would not receive the relief required. IMATU indicated its intention of withdrawing from the agreement. The municipality was not willing to cooperate, sticking to the terms and conditions of the divisional agreement.

IMATU approached the Labour Court with a request that the divisional agreement be declared null and void. The basis for this application was that in terms of the SALGBC Main Collective Agreement, certain issues such as annual and sick leave, retirement fund matters, and medical aid benefits can only be negotiated at a national level in the SALGBC. The divisional agreement addressed issues which were not permitted in terms of the main collective agreement. IMATU argued that the divisional agreement was null and void and had no force and effect. The Labour Court agreed with IMATU and declared the divisional agreement null and void. The municipality decided to appeal the judgment of the Labour Court on various grounds.

The Labour Appeal Court dismissed the grounds of appeal. It found that the dispute was not about the interpretation of a collective agreement but rather whether parties may engage in issues which were specifically excluded from negotiations at a divisional level.

The Court said that the issues were specifically excluded in the main collective agreement and that the Labour Court was correct in declaring the divisional agreement null and void and of no legal force and effect.

The effect of this judgment means that SALGA, and some of its unpredictable member municipalities have now been sent a clear message that they can not engage on a divisional level – as they often do – in national issues.

IMATU will use the judgment to compel SALGA and its member municipalities to deal with national issues at a national level. This will have the added bonus that all IMATU’s members will receive the same benefits on issues such as leave, medical aid, and retirement fund benefits.