Employees at the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) are set to embark on indefinite strike action starting on Friday after negotiations over pay and benefits reached a deadlock earlier this month.
The Communication Workers Union and its members are demanding a variety of things from Icasa, including an 11% increase across the board, guarantees of job security should the authority undergo restructuring, and a housing allowance of R1 500/month.
The strike is only applicable to union members employed by Icasa and not the union’s membership as a whole. Icasa has about 360 staff that are members of the union.
Union spokesman Vulture Ntuluki says it is difficult to gauge what effect the strike action will have on Icasa, but that should the strike continue for an extended period it will affect its ability to conduct its business.
“Our members are concerned about benefits and they are prepared to strike for as long as necessary to achieve their goals,” Ntuluki says. He adds that the strike is not only about having demands met but about “critical issues relating to Icasa mistreating [union] members” that need to be addressed.
“We have had reports of victimisation and abuse of staff at Icasa, and most employees are stressed,” says Ntuluki. He says the environment at the authority is “poor” and that the strike action is intended to “send a clear message to management”.
He says the union has been in negotiations with Icasa management since late last year. He says staff were due to get an increase on 1 July 2011 but management delayed negotiations and talks only began in earnest in late September.
In December, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) was brought in to mediate in discussions but no conclusions were reached. Ntuluki says meetings resumed on Monday but a resolution could not be reached.
“During our meetings in December, we tried to resolve the issues but couldn’t. Management then unilaterally implemented a 6% increase without consulting us.”
He says the union had been prepared to accept an increase of 8%, the figure proposed by the CCMA after analysis of the dispute, but that Icasa rejected this figure. He says the union remains “open to engagement” but that it has returned to its call for an 11% increase.
The union is also calling for a performance related bonus, something Ntuluki says was previously in place but is no longer clearly prescribed. It also wants Icasa to reassess its compulsory leave periods and make these negotiable.
He adds the union is aware that Icasa is undergoing restructuring and that management hasn’t consulted it about this.
“We have been calling for consultation but this has not been adhered to,” he says. “We managed to go to a workshop where structural alignment was discussed and where Icasa said that the restructuring will only be [at a] high level, but there isn’t proper information around this issue and we are concerned about the job security for our members.” — Craig Wilson, TechCentral
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