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What should you do if your workers refuse your wage offer?

by , 04 March 2015
At the beginning of this week, salary negotiations between the the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union and the South African Local Government Association's (Salga), opened at a wage offer of a 4.4%.

The negotiations take into consideration the wages for 230,000 municipal workers in 278 municipalities.

And news yesterday revealed that the initial offer has been rejected.

Have you been confronted with a situation like this? What do you do when wage negotiations fail? Read on for our labour experts' advice...

What's going on in the latest round of municipal wage negotiations?

In the previous mentioned context, Salga countered a 15% wage demand from two unions with an offer of a three-year deal of 4.4%, followed by two years of consumer price index inflation plus 0.25%.

However, Imatu and its larger counterpart, the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), are co-ordinating their wage demands, which include a 15% or R4,000 increase, whichever is higher, a minimum wage of R9,625 and a single-year agreement, states bdlive.co.za.

This, because as Imatu declared:

"While Imatu remains committed to constructive and meaningful dialogue with Salga, we have a mandate to ensure our members' income is not eroded by the continually increasing cost of living. Salga must consider the realistic percentage increases of year-on-year inflation, when it considers our proposed salary increases".

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Moreover, Imatu deputy general secretary, Craig Adams, explained that the union members have gone through a period of wage restraint while being expected to pay more tax and battle above-inflationary increases in transport, food, medical aid and electricity costs.

That's their reason for rejected the wage offer. And you need to keep similar things in mine when negotiating wages with your workers

Your employees have three options when it comes to their wages: ideal, satisfactory and unacceptable.

And that's why you need to:
Keep in mind the average pay at other companies in the industry and explain this fact!

- State this is what you can offer for the time being and that a discussion is possible concerning a performance based bonus!

- Be prepared for the negotiating dance!

- Be silent and let the other party do the talking and listen to their offer.

- Be persistent and stick to your arguments!

- Use the facts but also be flexible and negotiate other compensation methods if your employees show reluctance to accept your wage offer. For example you can compensate by offering more leave days, a flexible schedule, performance based bonus, etc.

Use these tips and know how much you can offer and where your limit is. Be calm and explain using the facts so you don't appear reluctant to offering a wage increase when negotiating wages with your employees.

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