Refuse collection outrage

2009-11-16 00:00

NORTHERN suburbs residents are outraged after being told their refuse has not been collected since Wednesday because the municipality is not paying overtime.

The Witness was inundated with calls from residents who said the workers are holding the city to ransom because of their overtime pay. They want to know who is in charge at city hall — workers or managers. There were suggestions that the city hall be put under curatorship to sort out the problem since senior managers appear not to be able to handle the matter.

The affected areas include Northdale, Woodlands, Orient Heights and Mountain Rise.

Equally frustrating, claimed residents, was their inability to reach anyone in the waste management division to get a response.

Residents who managed to get through said they were told that because the municipality is not paying overtime, waste management is unable to collect the refuse.

They were also told the situation was exacerbated by a shortage of trucks because there are problems in the workshop.

The Witness’s own investigation at the weekend revealed that workers at the municipality have been getting massive amounts of overtime for such a long time that there is a sense of entitlement to the money. Many have raised their standards of living based on what they earn in overtime.

Sources within the city hall say that overtime cuts will result in people having to give up their cars, take their children out of expensive schools and even move to cheaper housing.

Many of them blame the municipal manager and his senior management team for not having changed the system gradually or giving them time to make the adjustment. They claim that the council has been making a noise about overtime for over a year and the senior managers have not acted.

According to one source, waste management has always been seen as a guzzler of overtime money.

A while back it was realised that the problem would be solved by getting more trucks so that a bigger fleet would be out during the day and all the work would be finished in worktime. The system apparently worked wonderfully for a few weeks, until the workers realised that they were taking home less money. The allegation is that they called a meeting addressed by the municipal manager. A short while later the extra trucks were taken away and the previous system continued.

There are calls for an inquiry as to why the extra trucks were taken away and why plans put forward by the different divisions on curbing overtime have not been implemented by senior management.

The deputy municipal manager for waste management, Zwe Hulane, who responded to an e-mail sent by The Witness, apologised to residents for the inconvenience and assured residents that permission had been obtained for trucks to pick up the waste over the weekend.

He said the problem was not overtime, but the shortage of trucks. He said the moment overtime was stopped it exposed the essence of the problem — that there were insufficient vehicles to complete the rounds within working hours.

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