Strike looms at Agri Research Council

The trade union Solidarity extended conciliation to 2 September, and if the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has not accepted or rejected their demands by then, employees will join the nationwide strike, said Solidarity organiser Schalk de Bruin.

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The ARC initially offered a 5,5% increase in response to organised labour’s 15% demand.

“At that time management provided the organisation’s financial statements and the parliamentary grant allocations to give a full picture of its financial status,” said ARC spokesperson Tobey Matlaisane.

It was then claimed that the ARC was already spending 94% of its budget on salaries and had little more to give. But, Solidarity disagreed, quoting ARC CEO Shadrack Moephuli as saying salaries made up only 60% to 70% of the ARC’s budget. Solidarity has since lowered its demand to a 10% salary increase across the board with a research study on the market-relatedness of ARC employees’ salaries.

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At a meeting with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in August, the ARC revised their offer to 7% and said this was final.

“We hope the agreement on salary increases will be signed so we can implement the final offer in
September 2010, back-dated to 1 April 2010,” said Matlaisane.

With Solidarity in no mood to compromise, the scene is set for strike action. “This fight began in April. We’ll strategise to get what we want, that’s how industrial action works,” he said.