IN a major breakthrough in municipal wage negotiations, unions secured a promise for a pay increase of 7% from the employer, the SA Local Government Association (Salga).
This is, however, bad news for the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, which budgeted for a wage hike of 6% for 2012/13.
The city had warned that any increase above 6% would put further pressure on its coffers.
Municipal unions – the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) – are elated at the "very favourable” outcome of the last round of wage negotiations in Durban on Thursday.
The final decision of acceptance has to be made by next Thursday, after the unions have spoken to all their members, but both Samwu and Imatu are optimistic that the members will accept.
Salga’s final offer on the table is a 6.5% increase in July and a further 0.5% rise in January 2013. An inflation-plus-1.25% increase is mooted for 2013/14, followed by an inflation-plus-1% increase in 2014/15.
Salga also agreed to provide a 100% employer contribution towards medical aid benefits for low-income earners and an 18% contribution to retirement funds.
This was after unions rejected Salga’s previous offer of a 6.5% wage increase for 2012/13, inflation plus 0.75% in 2013/14 and inflation plus 1% in 2014/15.
Samwu initially wanted a 15% across- the-board salary increase, but dropped its demand to 8%. Imatu dropped from 13% to 7%, or R1750, whichever was greater.
Samwu national bargaining officer Dale Forbes said: "The offer on the table is very favourable and we are very happy with what we have achieved with negotiations this week.
"We consider this a major breakthrough because there are quite a lot of improvements to Salga’s previous offer.
"We must still present it to our members, but I believe [they] will probably accept this offer.”
Imatu general secretary Johan Koen said: "The facilitator’s proposal will be taken back to our members for discussion. However, we are hopeful that an agreement can be reached in the near future.
"From the beginning of these wage negotiations in May this year, Imatu has always been committed to reaching a swift and amicable agreement.
"We have to fulfil the mandate of our members while trying to ensure a swift and effective process that is not unnecessarily dragged out.”
Meanwhile, Bay budget and treasury portfolio chairman Balu Naran said the municipality had only budgeted for a 6% wage increase. Anything above that would result in some vacancies not being filled.
"We budgeted 6% according to National Treasury guidelines. If the settlement is higher, we will have to cut back on overhead expenditure in terms of funded vacancies.
"What it means is that some vacancies that are not critical will not be filled,” Naran said.