About-turn on back pay

2013-10-31 00:00

CITY manager Sbu Sithole has made an about-turn on his claims that city employees owed the municipality money.

Last month Sithole was adamant that the city was owed money despite the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling that the eThekwini Municipality must honour millions of rands in back payments owed to employees.

The SCA had dismissed an appeal brought by the municipality against an earlier judgment handed down by the Labour Appeal Court. This meant that the city had to pay over 20 000 employees millions of rands in staff benefits, dating back six years.

But this week Sithole said it was impractical to expect money back from employees, especially those who were struggling to make ends meet.

However, “The municipality would have to pay back what it owed employees,” he said.

At the heart of the dispute is the implementation of divisional conditions of service by the eThekwini Municipality in 2007.

The city introduced the agreement when employees, who fell under five pay structures relating to their former operational entities — and all of whom had different conditions of service and wage packages — were unified under the newly created municipality.

“We are checking a number of things including annual leave, pension contribution, allowances and how people were remunerated,” he said.

Sithole said demanding money back from employees would create instability in the municipality.

The Witness understands that Metro police employees stand to score big when the process is completed.

The families of deceased employees and those who retired would benefit but those who resigned or were fired would forfeit their back-pay dividends.

Yesterday, Imatu president Stanley Khoza said a technical team formed by the municipality was working around the clock.

Unions had been preparing to fight the municipality in court if it insisted on making employees pay money claimed to be owed to the city, he said.

Khoza said the task team had asked for an extension to understand the full scope of the back payments.

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