The City’s management is tightening financial controls and considering freezing overtime in some departments to curb abuse which has seen monthly claims hitting more than R7 million.This was revealed by Msunduzi administrator Sibusiso Sithole in this week’s joint meeting for the executive and finance portfolio committees. He was responding to the councillors’ plea for City management to do something about the runaway overtime bill the municipality has to pay its employees every month. According to a report presented by the acting municipal head Nelisiwe Ngcobo, Msunduzi spent more than R7,3 million in overtime in December, and in November the expenditure had also been just as high. This resulted in an over-expenditure of R2,9 million. The Witness previously reported on how the City management felt it was losing control over its unruly workforce who thought they were entitled to claim excessive overtime. There were also allegations that some staffers went as far as threatening their supervisors when they did not approve their overtime claims. Councillor Mohamed Salim Goga of the Al Jama-ah political party said he was under the impression that the municipality was supposed to be reducing its overtime expenditure but the December figures showed they were actually higher than the previous year’s.“This is very troubling. We are already in dire financial strain and we can’t be allowing this to happen. Something drastic needs to happen.” The DA’s Sibongiseni Majola concurred with him, saying the committees deserved an explanation on why some business units were overspending on overtime while others were within their budget allocation.Sithole said they were considering a complete freeze of overtime in some of the units unless it was either planned for ahead of time or an emergency.“Otherwise we are not going to win this battle, especially at the lower levels of the organisation.”He said there were instances where they believe that the overtime was not justified and employees created the conditions to work after hours so that they could claim for it.Deputy mayor Manilal Inderjit supported the proposal, saying “drastic times call for drastic measures”.Ngcobo also agreed that there was no justification for the perpetual increase in overtime expenditure. “We need to look closely into the control measures that we’ve put in place [and assess] which are not reaping the fruits that we want to see. We need to change the strategy which we’ve implemented in dealing with overtime.”General manager for corporate services Mosa Molapo shared Ngcobo’s sentiments, saying the strategies the City had were not adequately covering some areas, which led to over-expenditure.She said there were policies that would soon come into effect to ensure proper controls on overtime as well as standby shift allowances. These are yet to come to council for adoption.Councillor Ntuthuko Ntshangase of the ANC said there should be a time-frame for the implementation of those policies as the issue needed immediate attention.“We’ve been under financial distress for quite some months, since April, and it’s really cause for concern that we’ve not been able to address this question of overtime.” It is understood that the internal audit unit has also been mandated to investigate the abuse of overtime as some municipal employees were said to be claiming for hours that even exceeded their normal work shift.