The municipality which covers areas of Harrismith, Kestell and Phutaditjhaba partly paid workers while others have not been at all, including third parties which did not received payments for months now. The municipality has in fact created a situation which could potentially cause conflict among workers while the non-payment of third parties has resulted in some policies lapsing.
As we speak, there are some of our members who have to pay out of their pockets to bury their loved ones because their policies have since lapsed. This municipality has shown itself to be non-carrying and non-responsive to the needs of workers. The unpaid and partly paid workers will this month incur bank charges as a result of bounced debit orders.
We have also been informed by our members that the municipality has failed to convene Local Labour Forums (LLF) in a long time. This has resulted in the collapse in relations between workers and the employer. Failure by the municipality to convene LLFs has resulted in the municipality not implementing awards and honor agreements which have been reached between both parties and cannot account to workers as to why they have failed in implementing these agreements.
During the interactions with members a lot issues were raised which have convinced us that this municipality has technically collapsed. The financial situation that the municipality faces is one that has been deliberately engineered by the municipality and could have been avoided should there have been a political and administrative will to do so.
We firmly believe that the municipality has collapsed as a result of the outsourcing practices and the duplication of duties wherein senior managers are hired to perform duties which are already performed by other personnel.
Outsourcing has become an order of the day to an extend that even functions of the Finance Department have been given to private contractors thus rendering municipal staff redundant while these contractors are receiving huge sums of money for functions which could easily be performed by current staff.
Despite the directive from the Minster of Finance that municipalities should reduce the use of consultants, this municipality has increased its outsourcing programme to also include Traffic, Roads and IT. It has also come to our attention that some of these contracted companies use municipal resources and material but end up claiming full payment from the municipality.
SAMWU is opposed to the delivery of services through contracts and the tendering systems. We believe that municipal services should be rendered by people who are directly and permanently employed by municipalities. The tendering system does not create capacity or strengthen service delivery, if anything, they milk councils of resources which are already scarce.
We have been made aware that the municipality will be giving Eskom the responsibility of electricity distribution, this despite there being a workers who are employed by the municipality in the Electricity Department. There has also been no consultation with workers as to how decision will affect workers. We will oppose any move by the municipality which would result in workers losing their job.
This is but one of the many ways which the municipality has proven itself to be attacking workers, attempting to collapse the bargaining power of workers and and systematically isolating and frustrating union members.
Our members are expected to perform their duties without proper tools of trade especially in the Fire, Traffic and Electricity Departments without the provisions of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) thus risking lives of workers. They are also expected to walk long distances while performing their duties as they are not provided with transport to fully complete their tasks. Obviously workers would be exhausted even before they can begin their shifts and as a result, service delivery will be compromised.
Following our meeting with municipal management which included the Mayor, Municipal Manager and directors, we have signed a memorandum of understanding as follows;
1. An LLF will be convened on the 27th February 2017
2. All employees will be paid their full salaries by 28th February
3. Councillors will be the last to receive their salaries prioritizing workers
4. All outstanding third party payments will be paid in full before 20th March 2017
5. Employees who have incurred bank charges as a result of late payment in salaries will be reimbursed by the municipality.
We have also agreed with our members that the LLF will discuss the following items;
1. Equal pay for equal work
2. Implementation of all awards and settlement agreements
3. Filling of all vacancies following due processes
4. Prioritising internal staff when filling vacancies
5. Worker development and skills training
6. Immediate conversion of contract workers to permanent employment
7. Immediate stop of illegal and unlawful deductions against salaries
8. Fair disciplinary processes to be followed when dealing with disciplinary matters
9. Provision of PPE
10. Insourcing of all municipal services and canceling all private contracts
11. Transportation when performing duties
Should the municipality fail to honor the memorandum of understanding or reach an agreement in favor of us in the organized labour in the LLF, we would immediately write to the Department of Cooperating Governance and Traditional Affairs demanding that the municipality be urgently placed under administration as this would be an indication that there is no political and administrative leadership in this municipality.
Issued by SAMWU Free State Province
082 620 9160
Deputy Provincial Secretary
084 806 4005