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South African cleaning strike over, pay deal signed
The South African Transport & Allied Workers Union (SATAWU)) representing workers cleaning sector has finally reached an agreement on wages with the industry's employer associations. The parties signed a three year agreement, which as well as an 8% increase across the board, includes the following:
* The wage increase from 1st December 2011 will be 8% for area A and 8.5% for area C
* Second year Consumer Price Inflation (2% both areas)
* Full 13th cheque effective from December 2011
* Third year Consumer Price Inflation ( 2% in area A) and (2.5% in area C)
* No worker will work fewer than 35 hours per week
* The employers agreed to an in-principle commitment to a basic salary in the industry during the next round of negotiations.
The agreement was signed after three weeks of strike action which saw the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration intervening in the dispute.
"We hope workers will be thrilled with this agreement - particularly the wage increase, which is above the narrow expectations of conservative economist always wanting unions to accept lower wage increases in line with inflation targeting," says SATAWU National Spokesperson, Mamokgethi Reagoikanya Molopyane.
"The Employers' Associations attempted to put forward an argument that the rate of wage increases has been higher than the rate of inflation over the past five years.
"SATAWU cannot subscribe to this notion because of the following realities:
* South Africa is the most unequal country in the world in terms of income, and the most concrete way to address this inequality is to close the wage gap
* In the absence of an adequate social wage, workers rely on their salaries to provide for all their needs and those of their families.
* As of the 1st July, Eskom has increased the electricity tariff by 30%; petrol is now over R10/litre and municipality rates and taxes have also increased by a large percentage
"It has really taken long hard years for the union to convince employers to accede to an averagely wage increase. We have argued strongly in the past that wage rates of the cleaning workers should be impeccably based to cushion for vagaries of inflation and economic hardships.
"We hope and trust that workers will be encouraged with the new shifts. Maybe we can move forward to concretely transform the industry. With this agreement parties will now concentrate on bigger issues of the industry such as the continued use of labour brokers and the lack of a policy framework on basic salary. The wage increase will go a long way in promoting change in the industry. So far, the signing of this deal will paint positive developments in the industry as it will improve the conditions of workers.
"We expect our members to return to work as early as Monday."
T: 082 395 0907/011 333 6127
1st September 2011