Managers defend overtime

2010-03-08 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality managers who authorised overtime amounting to millions of rands have come out in defence of their actions, saying that had they not done so, service delivery would have immensely suffered.

Speaking to The Witness on Friday following an article naming managers who signed high overtime claims, the managers said that even the hours they approved were justified.

Deputy municipal manager for community development Zwe Hulane, whose process manager, Mandla Zuma, authorised R1,5 million in overtime for January, said the state of rubbish trucks in the municipality compels workers in this section to work overtime.

He said that in order for the waste management division to work properly on any given day, 15 trucks are needed to complete 15 rounds, but the municipality is on average working with only seven trucks because of breakdowns in the ageing fleet.

What that means is that workers are normally required to work beyond their normal working hours. “If this is not allowed it would mean that every next day there would be a backlog of refuse collection, which we won’t allow. It becomes an absolute neccessity for managers [like Zuma] to be compelled under the present circumstances to approve overtime claims,” said Hulane.

He said a decline in overtime would deny ratepayers services they have paid for.

Acting deputy municipal manager for infrastructure services Thokozani Maseko, who authorised more than R64 000 in payments to 173 workers, said the first responsibility of a professional was spelled out clearly in the oath of Greek physicians: Primum non nocere: “above all, not knowingly to do harm”. He said this is the basic rule of professional ethics — public responsibility.

“There is a very thin line between acting responsibly and negligence. If authorising overtime means managing risks to prevent loss of life, threats to human health, damage to property, pollution of rivers, loss of revenue and loss of municipal assets, then I must accept that responsibility as part of [my] executive weaponry,” Maseko said.

The executive committee was clear in its decision that any deviation from the overtime policy will have to be accounted for by managers, he said.

“Infrastructure services performs, on a day-to-day basis, operation and maintenance of mostly ageing infrastructure assets with a replacement value of billions of rands.

“Our objective is to ensure the provision of uninterrupted basic services to our communities in a sustainable manner and to promote a safe and healthy environment.

Maseko said workers attend to burst water pipes, blocked sewers, pump station failures and electrical faults after hours

ASKED how an employee can work overtime of more than 200 hours a month, Hulane said that, for example, in the space of five days employees collecting refuse can work overtime of 60 hours. He said overtime is worked by refuse collectors, drivers and supervisors due to the non-availability of compactors. As the average fleet availability is seven trucks (instead of 15), the overtime is therefore eight rounds times seven workers, including the driver, times eight hours at about R32 per hour times 1,5 hours (overtime rate) times five days times 4,33 weeks = R433 000 per month or R5 586 739 per annum.

Hulane said refuse collectors work on a task system. Once they finish their task they are done for the day, but if problems arise, they must work overtime. The overtime in the waste management division covers work on garden refuse sites, supervision by foremen, industrial refuse removal, and removal of garden containers and other containers.

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