The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) is thrilled that you have requested public inputs in the lead up to your maiden budget speech which you will present in Parliament on the 25th February 2015. We therefore take this opportunity to do just that.
SAMWU has not had an opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment as the country’s finance minister, tasked with the safe keeping of the public purse of the republic. We understand that this may not necessarily be the easiest job in the whole Cabinet. We however wish you well minister.
Honourable Minister your maiden budget speech comes at a time wherein the country has lost its standing as Africa’s largest economy, a time wherein our economy has been reported to be struggling while other SADC economies are growing. Minister, your speech comes at a time wherein the country is facing uncertainty over the looming blackouts as a result of the lack of investment in the state power utility Eskom. Your speech comes at a time wherein the world is witnessing falling oil prices which fortunately has resulted in the decrease in petrol, diesel and illuminated paraffin, although we are unsure how long consumers still have to celebrate.
Honourable Minister, your speech comes two months after the Statistician General Pali Lehohla announced the employment statistics in October 2014. Minister, we are sure you do not need to be reminded that unemployment is a crisis in this country. At last count, expanded unemployment had increased to 35.8%. The statistics indicate that over 5 million people who are employable are unable to find work. The statistics have further shown that black and coloured graduates are having difficulties with finding employment, further that white and Indian people constituted a higher percentage of those employed with only matric or tertiary qualification.
It goes without contradiction that the country has a long way to go in addressing the challenges that young and coloured people encounter in the democratic South Africa. Coloured and black youth constitute 79.3% of those that are of employable age, yet they represent a shocking 85.7% of the unemployed. We welcome the establishment of the Department of Small Business Development. Minister, we trust that this department will be instrumental in empowering young entrepreneurs and as such urge you to ensure that sufficient resources are channelled to this department. Minister, we further urge you to ensure that the National Youth Development Agency serves young people of South Africa.
dget speech comes a few months after the implementation of the Employment Tax Incentive Act, notoriously known as the youth wage subsidy. Organised labour has voiced its concerns with this Act. Minister, we were shocked to learn that this Act has become corporate sponsorship, that the main beneficiaries being labour brokers. A study conducted by the Labour and Development Research Unit based at the University of Cape Town found that the Act has not been effective with no evidence linking it to job creation. Minister you have to concede that this Act has failed the youth, you have to concede that your department should have listened to organised labour.
Honourable minister, it has since come to our attention that your office has given a directive to municipalities to give municipal workers a salary increase of 5.8% effective from 01 July 2015 for the 201516 financial year. This while food, transport and accommodation prises are on an increase more shockingly when inflation is expected to reach 6.2%. Minister we would like to remind you that negotiations between SALGA and us trade unions have not commenced. As such honourable minister you are pre-empting the outcomes of the Bargaining Council.
Putting this in perspective, a worker who earns R4000 (average salary of most municipal workers) will only get a R232. We view this as a spit in the faces of the dedicated workers who have devoted their time and energy to move South Africa forward with you through the provision of basic services, Minister, our members have indicated that they demand 15% or R 4 000 whichever is greater. SAMWU fully supports the demands of the workers, we believe that this is the minimum that our members are entitled to. We therefore urge you honourable minster to desist from interfering in processes that are purely for negotiations between the employer body – SALGA and trade unions.
Honourable Minister, South African Municipal Managers are the highest paid civil servants in this country. We were shocked late last year to learn that the Miaal Municipal Manager is the highest paid, earning an annual salary of R2.8 million. Minister, we urge you to ensure that Municipal Manager’s salaries are regulated,
Honourable Minister, we are pleased by the austerity measures that were introduced by your predecessor. We believe that the tax payers’ money saved from these measures should be for the benefit of improved service delivery. Minister, SAMWU has noted the privatisation of municipal services through the tendering system. The tendering system does not improve service delivery, it in fact stretches the public purse and that of consumers. Municipalities pay aomical amounts for work that would be cheaper if provided by municipalities with their staff compliment. Minister we urge you to do away with the tendering system, especially in local government. If anything, this system has resulted in the emergence of tenderpreneurs and does not address the issue of living wages. Workers are exploited by these new elite and are earning peanuts while the bosses take all the profits.
Lastly Honourable Minister, South Africa has become the most unequal society in the world. The wage gap between workers and their principals is shocking. This has resulted in what organised labour calls the working poor. Minister, South African workers need the implementation of a national minimum wage with immediate effect. Some sectors in the economy have implemented their sectoral determination.. Studies have shown that minimum wage should be between R4500 and R6000.
Minister, we believe that such implementation will help in reducing the horrendous levels of inequality in the country.
Source : Congress of South African Trade Unions