By re-opening negotiations, the SABC has taken the process back into the normal collective bargaining arena where employees will be allowed to strike. The acting head of employee relations, Mr Andre Weber confirmed that employees of the SABC will now be able to lawfully strike since the SABC has invoked the clause where they want to negotiate.
It is however not necessary to strike. In terms of the contract (multi-term agreement) the SABC must implement the 12.2%, which will remain in force until a new agreement has been reached. Putting it differently, nothing can be taken away from members, unless we agree. Had the CPIX been low, we could then strike for a higher percentage. Should we not agree to a lower percentage, the SABC’s remedy would be to lock-out members to compel us to accept a lower increase. They are however currently in breach of the contract by refusing to implement the 12.2%.
We have already started negotiations with the SABC. Our willingness to negotiate is no way an admission that our members are not legally entitled to the 12.2%. This also does not constitute a relaxation of the agreement to not implement the 12.2%.
The 12.2% must be implemented with immediate effect and will remain in force until we have agreed on another percentage.
Apart from our legal right to the increase, this is a test of their sincerity, goodwill and integrity.
Fact is, we have entered into an agreement where we have agreed to accept average CPIX +1%. Had the average CPIX been 3%, the SABC would have insisted on, and in fact implemented 4%. They would have said to us the agreement stipulates they must implement on 1 April 2009, and if we want to enter into negotiations, we have the right to do so (because the agreement says so). If we fail to agree on a higher percentage, the 4% will remain effective. They would be correct.
According to the SABC they have decided to re-open negotiations because we did not want to negotiate (their term for not agreeing) with them. (Yes, we are confused too).
We will meet on Monday again with the SABC. If they do not agree with our proposal, and they continue to be in breach of the agreement, we will proceed with legal action.