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Message-ID: <007201bfc19e$02a31920$102aa8c0@mystation.com>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 16:22:15 +0200
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YorkU.CA>
From: Anna Weekes <samwu@WN.APC.ORG>
Organization: SAMWU
Subject: SAMWU Statement: Waterboards wage negotiations stall

Waterboards wage negotiations stall

SAMWU Statement
Friday May 19th, 2000 5pm

SAMWU's wage negotiations for workers in waterboards have stalled. At the Rand Water Board, which provides bulk water services to Gauteng and parts of the North West and Mpumalanga, SAMWU is disappointed to note that management indicated that it was not prepared to respond to many of the demands placed on the table, even though SAMWU had reduced the wage demand to 12.1% from 15% for support staff.

These workers are the backbone of the Rand Water Board and account for those earning the lowest wages in the company. The demand for artisans and operators was reduced to 10.6%. These workers although fewer in number provide vital skills for the functioning of the Board.

Management tabled an offer of 6% that is 2.6% below the core inflation rate of 8.6%. SAMWU has rejected this offer out of hand as it represents an attempt to cut workers' wages in real terms. General meetings will be held with members to assess what action can be taken to force management to grant real increases.

Should the next round of wage negotiations not produce an offer by management that is acceptable to Samwu, we will be preparing to take action in support of our demands. This will mean that water services in Johannesburg and the rest of Gauteng, as well as Mpumalanga and North West, will be disrupted.

At the Water and Sanitation Services South Africa (WSSA), the company responsible for the privatisation of services in the Cape Metropolis and a number of towns in the Eastern Cape, employers also failed to keep their promises. "Their promise to workers was that improved benefits and salaries would be the order of the day should workers agree to transfer to the company from the local authority. This promise has been as difficult to grasp as water running through one's fingers," said Collective Bargaining Officer Dale Forbes late this afternoon.

Municipal workers will receive an increase of R230 or 6% on 1 July 2000. But WSSA is only prepared to offer R200. The company has cited problems of profitability at its operations. "Now the workers have to pay for the myth that water is a profitable commodity," said Forbes adding that communities need to be vigilant as the company is looking to cut costs and health and safety standards could become a victim of cost-cutting. "SAMWU demands that these water services be re-nationalised before the communities start suffering," said Forbes.

Samwu has demanded increases between R295 and R250. This is to counter management's attempts to divide workers at different plants by offering different salary structures. Workers only get R1470 as a minimum wage, which is below the national minimum of R1600. General meetings will be held by 5 June 2000. If management is unable to improve significantly by then, Samwu will declare a dispute and prepare for industrial action.

For comment please contact Dale Forbes on 083 651 2959

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