Municipality on rations

2010-03-15 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality has been put on an economic diet and staffers will find their telephone privileges slashed, their security guards halved and their perfor­mance bonuses questioned.

This after the provincial task team tabled its latest report at the last executive committee (Exco) sitting, outlining cost-cutting measures in efforts to rehabilitate the ailing municipality.

Provincial task team member Naren Mahesh said they will monitor the telephone and cellphone calls of staff, who will no longer be able to make private calls with immediate effect, except for emergency calls with prior approval by management. All calls made to cellphones must now go through the switchboard for logging.

Mahesh said it is also imperative to put a stop to all entertainment, conferen­ces, meals, seminars, courses, the hiring of chairs and marquees and the like with immediate effect.

“New staff appointments should be only for critical, approved posts and subject to the availability of funds.” He said they will delay the approval of new appointments and that no new posts are to be filled.

Where staff resources are not being utilised optimally, the municipality will redeploy people to do critical jobs, where possible, said Mahesh.

He said that no more temporary employees will be hired and departments using temporary staff must motivate for their retention. Only temporary workers performing critical functions will be retained, said Mahesh.

He also put a stop to renovations and the purchase of new furniture, IT systems, office equipment and other assets.

Mahesh advised the municipality to avoid late-payment costs by paying creditors in 30 days.

In terms of security ser­vices, Mahesh said the municipality will have to review all contracts to ascertain if it will be cost-effective to redeploy suitably competent general workers to provide the service required. “Alternatively, we could do without security services or even reduce security in certain areas,” he said.

With regard to cleaning contracts, Mahesh said the municipality should rather use existing staff to perform such duties wherever possible.

A cost-benefit analysis will have to be undertaken before any vehicles are purchased, and car-hire contracts will also be examined to see whether they are cost-effective, said Mahesh.

No performance bonuses are to be paid.

Acting municipal manager, Kevin Perumal, said senior managers had met with the task team regarding the cost-cutting measures, and there is full co-operation.

A new telephone-management system will monitor phone usage and cellphone packages must be reduced. He agreed with the task team’s recommendation with regard to making use of temporary workers only where necessary, and said the municipality will also work towards reducing the number of temporary staff by 10%.

Regarding the removal of security, Perumal said a further assessment will have to be conducted.

Perumal said vehicles will only be purchased where necessary. He said they will introduce a trip authorisation form that must be signed and produced on demand.

Although he was in agreement with all the recommendations, he said the proposal to put an end to performance bonuses was a difficult one.

“Unfortunately, contractual obligations make it lawful for performance bonuses to be paid. The assessment committee will have to negotiate.”

Chairing the meeting, Deputy Mayor Mervyn Dirks said he hopes the measures will not hamper services.

ANC councillor Gerrit Meyer said they need to assess staff who are not performing and train people.

ANC councillor Themba Zungu said disciplinary action must be taken against managers who fail to adhere to the cost-cutting measures.

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