Avatar photo

By Vukosi Maluleke

Digital Journalist

‘They’re working for transport and food’: Samwu wants 15% or R4 000 top-up

The current collective agreement will expire on 30 June 2024.

The South African Union of Municipal Workers (Samwu) says municipal workers are not earning enough to sustain themselves to keep up with rising living costs.

Samwu recently held a Special Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting to discuss salary and wage agreements among other issues.

The discussions come just months before the current salary and wage collective agreement under the South African Bargaining Council (SALBC), expires at the end of June.

Among its list of demands ahead of the new financial year, the union wants a 15% or R4 000 salary increase for its members, whichever is greater.

ALSO READ: Parallel ‘municipalities’ on the rise in small towns as residents take charge of service delivery

Choked by rising living costs

Speaking to The Citizen, Samwu National Media Officer, Papikie Mohale said salary top-ups for municipal workers in recent years haven’t been enough to keep up with rising living costs.

“Municipal workers have in the last years been receiving salary increases that are below inflation [rate] and as such they’ve technically been short-changed,” Mohale said.

“They have not been able to catch up with the cost of living,” he added.

Set on its mandate to pursue a living wage for municipal workers, Samwu is also calling for a sectoral minimum wage of R15 000 per month.

This would be the minimum amount a municipal worker stands to be paid – if Samwu has its way.

Mohale said a majority of municipal workers currently earned just under R10 000 monthly, explaining that the amount did not constitute a decent wage.

“They are unable to do anything. Infact, they are working for transport and food. We actually want to have a living wage in the sector,” Mohale said.

ALSO READ: Tshwane stinks as Samwu strike continues

‘Too rich, too poor’

Samwu’s list of demands also includes a R3 000 housing allowance to enable municipal workers to build decent homes.

Justifying the demand, Mohale said that most municipal workers simply couldn’t afford decent housing – adding they were often considered too poor for mortgage bonds from traditional banks.

“They are also considered too rich for social housing,” he said, adding that most municipal workers faced slim chances of owning decent homes under current circumstances.

ALSO READ: Better days ahead? Experts predict ‘slow recovery’ in SA real estate

‘Win-win situation’

In addition to housing allowance, Samwu wants the provision of serviced housing stands for municipal workers to build their homes on.

Mohale belives both municipalities and workers stand to benefit from the fulfilment of this demand.

“Importantly, if a municipality provides service stands for workers, these workers are going to be paying service rates and taxes.

“In a way municipalities are going to generate more revenue from those properties, so it’s a win-win situation for both workers and municipalities,” Mohale explained.

ALSO READ: Almost 90% of municipalities are ‘distressed’ or ‘dysfunctional’

Bridging inequalities

Samwu’s ‘single-year collective agreement’ proposal is also expected to include some notable provisions as per the union’s list of demands.

  • Six months of fully paid leave for maternity, paternity, and adoption leave to supporting work-life balance and family well-being.
  • A 70/30 medical aid subsidy, with the employer contributing 70% to improve access to affordable healthcare.

“We believe that by putting forward these demands, we’ll be able to bridge salary inequalities that municipal workers are facing,” Mohale told The Citizen.

ALSO READ: Municipal collapse: Many municipalities recruit people who they can control

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits