Two months without salaries for Free State municipal workers

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Angry municipal workers have not had their salaries paid for two months. Photo: City Press Archives
Angry municipal workers have not had their salaries paid for two months. Photo: City Press Archives

NEWS


Two months after not receiving their salaries, workers in the Mafube Local Municipality in the Free State have embarked on a go-slow, which has seen services including waste collection interrupted.

Angry workers told City Press that after not receiving their salaries on May 25, as they should be, they were patient and believed they would be paid for both May and June, on June 25. However, this was not the case.

All we have been told was that there was no money for our salaries,” said one worker, who added that the crisis of this struggling municipality continued to deepen. We have agreements with the employer that we render services and they pay us. We have rendered services and kept our part of the deal as workers, but for the second month in a row now, we have not been paid. They are stealing from us.

According to the worker, while “strike action is not encouraged among workers, the only way forward is to open a case of theft and fraud against the municipal manager, the chief financial officer as well as the mayor”.

Mafube municipal manager Josie Ralebenya confirmed to City Press that workers “were not paid for May and June due to financial constraints,” but vowed that workers would be paid in “early July to cover both May and June salaries”.

READ: No cash for salaries

“The province was informed about this matter, however, they couldn’t help us. The municipality is currently engaged in processes that will enable it to maximise its collection rate,” he said.

With workers left in distress, Ralebenya explained how the municipality decided to “help them by making a part payment of R2 000 towards their salaries”.

“This was with a view that when they got paid, they would be paid the difference.

“In a meeting held with labour representatives regarding this part payment, a concern was raised that depositing this money in the workers’ bank accounts won’t be useful because some are already in arrears as far as debit orders are concerned, so they may get nothing.

“That is where the idea of vouchers was agreed upon. Labour representatives suggested that these vouchers would be a gift to the employees but that could not be done because it would be unlawful.”

Explaining the vouchers offered to workers, the anonymous worker told City Press that they were displeased with the municipality’s offer.

“The employer owes me, but now it wants to loan me R2 000. When we get our July salary, that R2 000 would be deducted in one go. That will still negatively affect us. If they had proposed a monthly deduction of small amounts, we would have understood.”

SA Municipal Workers Union chairperson Johnson Mbele concurred.

Two months down the line, we have not received our May salaries. We had hoped that we would get paid this month for both May and June and instead, we are offered R2 000 vouchers.


“These vouchers dictate where I should make purchases from. As workers, we feel undermined and provoked. We have debts that need to be paid. We have families to feed.

“All they can tell us is that there is no money. That’s all they said and that they would try to get money from the province.”

Mbele added that they were dismayed at the current status of the municipality, more so after the Free State High Court ruled that Premier Sisi Ntombela places the municipality under compulsory administration following an application by AfriForum and the Mafube Business Forum in January.

READ: Free State: Capital of corruption?

“As employees in the municipality, we have been calling for national intervention for the longest time regarding so many things. This municipality has collapsed. Totally collapsed,” he said.


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Palesa Dlamini 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
palesa.dlamini@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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