‘We can’t work in these conditions’ — municipal workers

2019-03-06 06:01
PHOTO: lethiwe makhanyaCeiling boards are missing at the AS Chetty building.

PHOTO: lethiwe makhanyaCeiling boards are missing at the AS Chetty building.

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MSUNDUZI Municipality staff at its revenue offices at the AS Chetty Building claim that the municipality is turning a blind eye to issues which they say were first reported in 2016.

Irate workers downed tools last Wednesday, demanding that the municipal manager come and address them.

Workers say they have been waiting for answers from the municipality since 2016.

A worker who asked not be named in fear of victimisation said one of the biggest problems they face is that they are unaware of what their job descriptions are.

“Our duties change every day and we don’t know our position titles.We submitted a memorandum in 2016 but never received a response. We are overworked and underpaid. We feel as if the municipality is underestimating us. When other departments are protesting they attend to their issues quickly, why? Just because they (other workers) are burning tyres?” he asked.

Workers including cashiers, credit controllers, validation and rates workers say their working conditions are not acceptable; their infrastructure is old and damaged items are not repaired.

“We don’t have air conditioners,our chairs are broken, and the ceiling board is falling. Nothing is in good condition in this building yet we are expected to do our job properly everyday.

The source said there are 18 people in the office and eight air-conditioning systems but none work. “We don’t know what to do anymore. On the other hand, we have to deal with angry customers everyday because of the new system that they introduced for statements.

“This system is not doing us any good, instead it increases our work load: it is stressful and difficult.

The staff member added that customers do not get their statements on time and others receive them with wrong figures because of the new system which the worker claims is flawed.

“We were told not to send out statements to customers, we do not know why, and by the time we send them out, customers will be already in arrears and others disconnected.”

Another concerned worker said: “In our office we have a 10 month backlog of work and it keeps pilling up with other things that come in daily.”

When Echo visited the offices, they were shown the problem areas around the building.

A walk down the passage showed damaged ceiling boards, which were falling, and broken furniture scattered everywhere.

Old computers , which were no longer in use, were stored under their desks, giving staff very little leg room which makes it uncomfortable to sit at. The carpets had several stains due to leaks. The building also had an unpleasant, damp odour due to this.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Ntobeko­ Ngcobo said the municipality has met with employees from the Finance Services Business Unit who expressed their concerns to management.

“Their concerns included issues such as job evaluation processes, job grading, high vacancy rates, acting appointments as well as the tools of trade. Their concerns were heard and the management undertook to look into the concerns raised.

“The municipality recently advertised priority posts in order to address the staff shortage issue.

“The employees are reporting for work and they continue to carry out their job responsibilities and tasks in order to ensure effective and efficient operations of the municipality.

“The unit has a dedicated team of staff members who strive to deliver superior service to the ratepayers. The residents are assured that there is no interruption of business at customer service, bank hall and rates offices,” she said.

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