Labour Update: 3 Year deal signed

EQUALITY begins in the conversation

South Africa is fraught with inequality, something that will take a long time to redress. We are faced with it daily and whilst we’ve come a long way, the stench of inequality is very much still ever-present in the air. Many South Africans find themselves pondering the future of this country and doubting whether we will ever become a truly harmonious state and achieve equality.

The problem with pondering and doubt is that it breeds negativity and limits the human mind from identifying opportunities that would facilitate that which we ultimately wish to achieve. The problem with pondering and not engaging meaningfully, is that conversation and interaction on issues of concern lacks and without it, not a single problem can be resolved.

So, when one is surrounded by those pondering and those in doubt, it is a very proud moment when a team of individuals with different backgrounds, interests and mandates, finds a way to step outside the boundaries created by pondering, doubt, the media and immediate society. It is a proud moment indeed when such a team finds common ground with others who, purely by the nature of their different constituencies, are at opposite ends of the table.

It is a proud moment when such a team and their counterparts embrace the conversation that is required to move forward and which is in the best interest of an industry as a whole. It is a very proud moment when such a team achieves equality in the conversation and ultimately become partners to a mutually beneficial agreement, which by the time it expires in February 2022, would’ve brought about 9 continuous years of industrial peace within the industry.

It is with complete pride that the RFA salutes its Labour Relations Negotiations Team and its recent achievement in the industry negotiations. The many late nights and persistence paid off and we literally take our hats off to team. Their commitment was unparalleled, their determination enviable and their ability to act only in the interest of the industry as whole, commendable.

and anything but paved with gold.

If you’re the betting kind, you probably wouldn’t have bet on this agreement being achieved without industrial action. One only had to wake up to the news of the Mooiriver and Van Reenen protest actions earlier this year, to be convinced that these industry negotiations were doomed even before they commenced. In addition, service delivery protests were the order of the day in 2018 and naturally impacted our industry since our vehicles are easy targets, and our industry is pivotal to the South African economy.

If the changing labour market in our country was the crystal ball that the betting kind were relying on, then indeed, this was not the year that an agreement was to be reached without so much as a day of disruption. However, it was exactly these issues that informed the approach to the negotiations and which ultimately resulted in an agreement. Leadership on both sides understood that the stage was set by others, that the audience was waiting in anticipation for failure and frankly convinced of same. Leadership on both sides understood that when they stepped onto that stage, only they could manifest the outcome by the manner in which they engaged.

Let it be known that the aforementioned realisation is more of a curse than a blessing, because it requires a complete re-think of the process and the way we’ve done things in the past. Whilst phase one of the process seemed drawn out and not achieving much, the second phase saw parties seriously stepping up and engaging meaningfully. The parties were able to shed non-core issues and focus on the primary issues which eventually led to the agreement.

This year’s negotiations showed increased maturity amongst the parties in that parties honoured a pre-negotiation agreement which precluded parties from issuing media statements, unless it was done collectively under the auspices of the NBCRFLI. Furthermore, parties agreed to take care with information sharing and thus negotiations happened pretty much under the radar. Due to the sensitivity of the process, the RFA negotiation team also took a decision to limit written communication and relied on the mandating sessions to share information with its members.

of the agreement

The following are some of the key elements concluded in the agreement:

A three-year deal was secured. Thus, the agreement is intended to be applicable from 1 March 2019 to 28 February 2022, subject to the Minister of Labour promulgating the agreement and extending it to non-parties so that it is applicable to industry.

The Across the Board (ATB) increase, which applies to all those who are already employed on the day on which increases become due, has been agreed at 8% for 2019, 7.5% for 2020 and 7.5% for 2021.

Increases for EBU (Extended Bargaining Unit) categories are the same as above for those employed up to grade B4, with grade C1 receiving an increase at 1% less than the ATB. No additional benefits have been agreed for EBU categories.

The minimum wage (MIN), which applies to new entrants, have seen some adjustments which varies slightly across the chambers. These adjustments are detailed in the signed agreement which is available on the RFA website.

No new allowances were introduced. However, adjustments were made to the Subsistence, Cross-Border and Night Shift allowances, as detailed in the signed agreement.

The complete signed agreement and correspondence from NBCRFLI referred to above, are available (exclusively to members) on the RFA website under the Labour page.