Heads roll at Msunduzi

2008-10-21 00:00

Two Msunduzi Municipality staffers, Lynn Naidoo and James Hoskins, have been suspended from their trade union following allegations of financial irregularities.

In addition, an organiser in the Pietermaritzburg office of the same union, Cynthia Zikalala, was allegedly charged with misconduct. She resigned after an agreement was reached with her employers.

Naidoo was chairwoman of the Independent Municipal Workers Union (Imatu) and Hoskins was the District of Umgungundlovu full-time shop steward. He represented KZN on the union’s national executive council (NEC), was chairman of the KZN bargaining council and chaired two of its sub-committees. Hoskins also represented the Imatu NEC on the national body that controls job evaluations.

Imatu’s secretary-general, Johan Koen, confirmed Zikalala’s resignation and said the charge of misconduct does not relate to the Msunduzi branch or the allegations involving Naidoo and Hoskins.

According to sources, the allegations surfaced soon after the NEC took a decision that branches are no longer allowed to operate bank accounts and this function is to be carried out by the regional offices instead.

Branches were asked to transfer all financial documentats and records to their regional office. When this was done from the Pietermaritzburg office, allegedly unsubstantiated payments were found to the tune of about R130 000.

Cheques had allegedly been cashed, but there were no receipts, no cheque stubs were kept and no explanations offered for the missing documentation.

Koen confirmed that Naidoo and Hoskins had been suspended by the union’s KZN regional committee. He said internal charge sheets have been prepared.

The matter has also been referred to Imatu’s attorney’s to institute civil action, he added. “The matter is effectively sub judice and we would not want to say more than that at the moment,” said Koen.

When contacted, Naidoo referred the matter to her advocate, Kevin Chetty who said his client knows of no suspension and that if the report is published the newspaper will face a lawsuit.

Hoskins also said he has never been notified of any suspension. He said he had three meetings with Koen and had informed him that it was not his responsibility as the full-time shop steward to account for the finances of the branch.

“They have an elected treasurer. Why have they not taken up the issue with her?” Hoskins asked. He added that neither he nor Naidoo were signatories on the cheque accounts.

He declared that the allegations were a matter of sour grapes on the part of fellow union members.

Hoskins was recently promoted to Msunduzi Municipality human resources support services manager, a position that reportedly comes with a package of R500 000 a year.

As a result of the seniority of the position, he said, municipal rules prevent him from being involved in union affairs.

He alluded to allegations of racism within the union and indicated that the action against him smacks of a purge against outspoken black members.

Zikalala could not be reached for comment.

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