We have learnt that PRASA is adopting an antagonistic approach coupled with blackmail, smearing campaign and the old tactic of divide and rule against SATAWU and its members. This is from a background where parties entered into intensive Salary Negotiations as from 03 – 06 August 2020 after consolidation with their counterparts UNTU.
During the 2nd Round of Salary Negotiations in August 2020, PRASA presented a multi-year agreement for a period of 3 years (2020 -2023) attached with conditions that all Collective Bargaining Agreements that are in place will be nullified and the fact that all PRASA employees are expected not to embark in any legal and protected strike action for the duration of the agreement. Labour refused to accept the offer of 5% Across the Board (ATB) on Total Guaranteed Package (TGP) for 2020 to 2022 and 4, 5% ATB on TGP for 2022/23 Financial Periods as well as the conditions that were attached to it.
One of the fundamental reasons behind the rejection was informed by the fact that they were not having a mandate to negotiate a multiyear agreement. In light of these developments, Labour declared a dispute of mutual interest to CCMA on 28 August 2020. During the conciliation hearing that was held on 16 September 2020 PRASA was given an extension and a deadline for a period of 7 days to enable to seek more mandate from the Accounting Authority about mandated position of 7% ATB on TGP for 2020/21 8% ATB on TGP for 2021/22 and 10% ATB on TGP for 2022/23 Financial Period failing which a certificate of non-resolution that will culminate to a protected strike action would be issued by CCMA.
PRASA reverted to Labour with their revised mandate removing all the conditions that were attached to the offer save for the strike clause. SATAWU had openly rejected the condition on grounds that it tramps on Bill of Rights of the employees. SATAWU had also indicated to PRASA that due to unpredictability of the South African economy as well as the fact that PRASA Business Performance may improve in the next 24 months it will be fair to all parties to insert a clause in the agreement that gives a guarantee that employees will be given an inflation-based general increase if the economy performs better or parties should go back to the negotiating table for the review of the current offer.
SATAWU proposals were ignored by PRASA without any good cause. SATAWU is convinced that it will be improper to sign an agreement that takes away right to strike and also views the move as a direct attack on Collective Bargaining Rights. SATAWU is also concerned by the reluctance of PRASA to clinch this deal as it suggests that they are not confident enough that they are capable of improving the Business Performance.
SATAWU is also shocked by PRASA move of going to an extent of openly declaring open war against employees’ rights. SATAWU is also aware of the fact that the rationale behind the insertion of a no-strike clause in the Collective Bargaining Agreement is influenced by its dismal failure to attend to long outstanding issues pertaining Salary Disparities and Parity Exercise across PRASA Entities that they were supposed to implement as early as 2016 and they are aware that workers have lost patience as they had to wait for a period of 5 years without clear answers.
SATAWU is also worried about the interpretation of proportional representation of trade unions in the Bargaining Forum which had resulted in them granting majority status to UNTU and non-unionised members and power to implement the agreement without SATAWU agreeing. It is by law that the implementation of a collective agreement depends on the buying in of the two unions in the establishment. The inclusion of non-unionised members is by extension and this is the practice even in all Industry Bargaining Councils.
SATAWU also notes that PRASA Group Human Capital Management Miss Thandeka Mabija is assigned a new task of being an Acting PRASA Group CEO by the new Board of Control. Inasmuch as this is a historical breakthrough as the appointment of a woman to act in the position is happening for the first in PRASA we hold a firm view that this is the only chance that she has in cleaning up the whole mess that had taken place in PRASA in short term including the alignment of the approach pertaining issues of Collective Bargaining.