Centralised Bargaining Issues
Umgeni Water together with other Water Boards in the Water Services Industry have, through the Statutory Council, embarked on a journey towards full centralised bargaining. The past year saw the following developments:
- The registration of the South African Association of Water Utilities (SAAWU) as an Employer’s Association
- Agreement on the industry dispute resolution process outside of the CCMA
- Implementation of the Statutory Council Services
- Agreement on the Auditing Service provider to the council.
This convergence of the various stakeholders within the industry has both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the equalisation of the very disparate conditions of employment within the water sector.
Relations with the National Education and Allied Worker’s Union (NEHAWU)
The majority union subscribed at Umgeni is Nehawu and membership comprised 73 percent of the workforce. Within the bargaining unit which spans Peromnes levels 9-17, 504 out of 607 employees at these levels or approximately 85 percent are members of Nehawu.
Relations between union and management are good.
Medical Aid Agreement
A single medical aid scheme, Bonitas, was approved by the Board for all employees as the scheme proves more affordable to employees at the lower end of the pay scale and offers a comprehensive range of benefits. The Union (Nehawu) endorsed the scheme by signing a collective agreement on behalf of its members
Umgeni Water has aligned all its policies to ensure these are, at minimum, compliant with all relevant legislation, such that the rights and well-being of its employees can be safe guarded and protected.
Umgeni Water has a Collective Agreement with its union, NEHAWU, and sixty one percent (61%) of the total workforce are members of the union of which fifty-six percent (56%) are within the collective bargaining unit. Umgeni Water and the union meet at least quarterly, excluding special meetings. Notwithstanding a collective agreement, Umgeni Water is committed to information sharing and giving reasonable notification to organised labour regarding any significant operational changes that may affect employees directly or indirectly. Management actively engages labour regarding concerns raised and seeks to achieve resolution of issues without any stand-offs or disputes being formally submitted to external dispute resolution agencies.