Worker’s R58?000 ‘bonus’

2013-11-01 00:00

A GENERAL municipal worker earning about R58 000 in overtime claims caused quite a stir yesterday when a meeting of mayors and their MEC tried to get behind the motives for protest actions in their municipalities.

Ugu District Municipality’s Ntombifikile Gumede told the meeting that clamping down on these excessive overtime claims drew the ire of the unions. This often led to protest action.

“Protests are their daily bread and most of the marches came not from communities, but municipal workers,” she said.

This emerged yesterday when MuniMec, a forum between Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Nomusa Dube and 61 KZN mayors, met to discuss the causes of and ways to stop service delivery protests.

The province has witnessed an increase in protests in the period leading to the 2014 elections, while five months ago it was applauded by then Cogta Minister Richard Baloyi for leading in service delivery and being the province with the fewest protests.

Genuine complaints, political motives and lack of communication with communities were identified as reasons for the protests, but Gumede told the meeting workers opposed to changes instituted by management also contributed to the wave of protests.

Gumede also said at the Umzumbe Municipality communities embarked on protests demanding roads to be fixed just a day after the roads were washed away by rains.

She said in Ugu, protests often took place three times a week against the changes initiated in the municipality by the management.

“Close to R3,9 million was paid in overtime in one month. Of this R58 000 was paid to a general worker,” Gumede said to gasps from her fellow mayors and the MEC. These escalating costs forced them to revise their overtime payment structure.

Dube called for belt-tightening against the “looting of overtime”.

She earlier expressed concern at the possible rise in service delivery protests.

“We have community development workers, ward committees, safety committees and all kinds of structures that are paid by the state.

“All of these people are in wards, but you do not get a report that we have a community that is dissatisfied. You just wake up in the morning to roads being blockaded and there are protests. Surely someone should have raised these issues,” she said.

Other speakers at the meetings said apart from protests against increases in taxi fares, some protests were genuine, while some were fuelled by political motives coupled with allegations of mismanagement.

Municipalities are often also blamed for things they have no control over, like electricity and water supplies. Councillors not in touch with their communities were also blamed.

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