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.
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.
“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.
“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.