HAPPY EASTER IMATU MEMBERS

IMATU wishes all our members a restful Easter long weekend. We hope those who are taking leave return safely and thank those members who are on duty and continue to serve the South African people.

IMATU CALLS FOR MUNICIPAL WORKER SAFETY IN MATLOSANA

The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade (IMATU) is dismayed to learn of an altercation between protesters and police that landed some IMATU members in hospital and others needing treatment for shock.

“Members from our Matlosana Branch reported a very disturbing incident that took place at the municipal offices this morning. From what we understand protesters stormed the building just before 9am. Municipal employees realised that something was wrong when scuffles broke out between protesters and security guards inside the building. The violence intensified when the police arrived on the scene shortly thereafter. I believe rubber bullets were fired and because protesters had breached the building’s security some of our members were caught up in the altercations between protesters and police. I have confirmation that members had to be taken to hospital and numerous employees treated for shock,” stated IMATU North West Regional Manager, Paul Greyling.

This incident is one of many examples highlighting the escalation of violent protests around South Africa. IMATU shop stewards confirmed that their members are routinely threatened and intimidated while trying to perform their duties. Municipal meetings have been disrupted, buildings occupied and municipal officials taken hostage. As recently as two weeks ago external parties disrupted a scheduled local labour forum meeting in Matlosana, demanding recognition and making proceedings impossible to run.

While the motivation behind this morning’s protest still needs to be clarified, IMATU shop stewards believe the grievances relate to corruption, lack of resources, broader service delivery needs and job vacancies.

“Municipalities are responsible for providing the community with basic services however, a number of these services fall outside the scope of local government or require collaborative efforts across all three tiers of government. It is becoming more common for protesters to direct their frustration at municipal buildings and infrastructure to express their dissatisfaction, irrespective of the origin of the problem or whether this falls under the ambit of the municipality in question,” explained Greyling.

IMATU calls on the Matlosana Municipal Mayor to immediately address this situation and ensure that its members are provided with a safe and secure working environment. “IMATU will be requesting an urgent meeting with the Office of the Municipal Mayor in order to establish a satisfactory way forward that ensures the safety of our members. Members cannot return to a volatile work place where their safety is not guaranteed,” concluded Greyling.

ATTENTION KOPANONG MUNICIPALITY MEMBERS AND SHOP STEWARDS!

As part of the Free State Presidential Tour, the IMATU President: Stanley Khoza, Deputy President: Keith Swanepoel, Free State Regional Manager: Paul Greyling and shop stewards met with the Acting Municipal Manager, Acting Chief Financial Officer and Councillor of the Kopanong Municipality.

Amongst a number of matters discussed, IMATU raised the serious concern of third party deductions and the need for the municipality to ensure that our member’s deductions are timeously paid over to relevant service providers to avoid any lapses in medical cover, pension contributions and insurance.  

As a result of this meeting the Municipality has undertaken the following:

1. IMATU must be sent proof of up-to-date medical aid contributions, specifically addressing members’ concerns relating to the arrears from the past three months.

2. A request will be made directly to SALGA to include IMATU representatives at the upcoming meeting on 12 April 2019 to discuss pension funds.

3. IMATU has agreed that members are willing to return to work however, due to current safety concerns and restricted access to the work place this is not immediately possible. Until the safety of our members can be guaranteed, members in each town are required to identify a central meeting point for all employees to meet each morning, in order to sign the daily attendance register. After signing the register each day, members will return home until it is safe to resume their duties.

4. Members are responsible for ensuring that they sign the daily attendance register, this list is sent directly to Christiaan, who will then send on to Denise. Employees who do not sign the attendance register will unfortunately be subjected to the ‘No Work No Pay’ principle.

5. IMATU shop stewards have given their undertaking that IMATU members are not on strike and have fought hard to ensure that our members’ March 2019 salaries are not affected by the ‘No Work No Pay’ principle. From 1 April 2019 members who fail to comply with the signing of the attendance register will be subject to ‘No Work No Pay’.

* Essential services members are please reminded that by indicating that you are willing to work, you are required to assist should the municipality call on you to help the community.

6. The municipality has confirmed that March salaries were paid.

7. Each town that does not have an elected shop steward must please elect a shop steward as per agreement with the acting Municipal Manager. When members meet in their respective towns to sign the attendance register, those still needing a shop steward representative are requested to please elect a shop steward as soon as possible. The elected shop steward is requested to personally ensure that his/her contact details are sent to Ms Denise Retsinas on 082 443 3725.

8. Members must indicate to their shop stewards which different third party funds they belong to. After compiling a list, shop stewards are requested to send this through to Ms Retsinas. IMATU is in the process of drawing up a mandate form that will be used to get the required information from the different funds.

9. All current and newly elected shop stewards in the affected towns are requested to please send through your details to Ms Denise Retsinas on 082 443 3725 (name, surname, town/branch and contact details).

10. The IMATU shop stewards, officials and staff are congratulated for their efforts thus far. The dedication of your elected representatives has ensured that this situation is being resolved in as soon as possible with limited impact to members. The wellbeing and protection of our members is of paramount concern. They will continue to work towards the swift resolution of these problems but need your support to ensure success.

Thank you to the shop stewards for providing leadership and our members for their support. IMATU is working together for you!

IMATU DISAPPOINTED BY MPC MISSED OPPORTUNITY

The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is disappointed by the Monetary Policy Committee’s (MPC) decision to keep interest rates on hold at 6.75%.

IMATU believes that the Reserve Bank missed an opportunity to lower interest rates. Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) is presently recorded at 4.1%, falling below the 4.5% mid-point of the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) inflation targeting range. Based on the Bank’s own forecasts, headline inflation is expected to remain below 5% this year, with annual CPI calculated at 4.8%.

“While we understand that the mandate of the MPC is to target inflation, we remain concerned by our country’s poor domestic growth forecasts and escalating unemployment figures. Many of our members and South African consumers are cash-strapped, financially burdened and indebted. Consumers are expected to pay substantially more for fuel and electricity, which automatically affects the price of transport, food and other household expenses. South Africans have only seen two interest rate decreases in the past five years despite the country’s inflation forecast sitting comfortably within the Reserve Bank’s target range of 3-6%. The lowering of interest rates could have provided consumers with financial respite, increased disposable income and promoted growth through enhanced household spending capacity,” reasoned IMATU General Secretary, Johan Koen.

The Reserve Bank has only decreased interest rates twice in the past five years. In July 2017, despite projected inflation rates of 5.3%, the Reserve bank lowered interest rates by 25 basis points and interest rates were again lowered in March 2018.

IMATU believes that our current economic situation almost mirrors that of March 2018 when headline inflation was recorded at 4.0% and projected CPI at 4.9%. As the Reserve Bank lowered interest rates then, IMATU cannot understand the justification for increasing interest rates in November 2018 and now leaving rates unchanged.

Six separate interest rate hikes since 2014 have done little to improve South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth or mitigate the depreciation of the Rand. Annual GDP continued to decline throughout the Reserve Bank’s increased interest rate cycle between 2014 and 2017, settling at a meagre o.8% at the end of 2018. Furthermore, historical exchange rate records highlight the disconnect between increased interest rates and attempts to promote long term currency stability. At the start of the interest rate increase cycle, the Rand was trading at R10.97 to the Dollar and has steadily weakened to the present value of around R14.68.

“We will be closely monitoring Moody’s credit rating announcement tomorrow. Moody’s is the only international ratings agency still recording South Africa at investment grade and has consistently cited weak economic growth as a reason for further downgrades. While acknowledging the Reserve Bank’s mandate to target inflation, IMATU would welcome the inclusion of factors such as economic growth and employment when making decisions pertaining to the country’s interest rate,” concluded Koen.

High unemployment, low economic growth and overstretched consumers necessitate the need to provide financial relief where possible. IMATU believes that this missed opportunity will exacerbate already unbearable financial pressure on consumers.

IMATU CONCERNED BY INSUFFICIENT INFRASTRUCTURE SPEND

The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is concerned by reports that municipalities are failing to spend allocated infrastructure grants.

Minister of Finance, Mr Tito Mboweni, confirmed this week that 44 municipalities had their municipal infrastructure grants reallocated to other municipalities. Nelson Mandela Metro forfeited R29.4m from the grant on public networks while Ekurhuleni lost R90m, City of Johannesburg R46m and eThekwini R58m. Newcastle in KwaZulu Natal forfeited R56m and Madibeng in North West lost R60m.

“Over and above budgeted projects and maintenance, municipalities are able to apply for conditional grants to develop, maintain and refurbish infrastructure. These municipal infrastructure grants are meant to be tied to a specific project or purpose however, we routinely see this money used for other expenses or in some cases not spend at all. South African municipalities are collectively owed R139bn from residents alone. It seems inconceivable that income-strapped municipalities are not adequately utilising their grant allocations,” stated IMATU Deputy President, Keith Swanepoel.

Many of South Africa’s rural municipalities are reliant on these grants to upgrade and maintain water and sanitation services, roads, public buildings and a number of other services.

“The concerns of aging infrastructure and inadequate maintenance were highlighted and discussed at IMATU’s Mid-Term Conference in October 2018. We have developed reporting mechanisms to assist our members to record breakdowns in service delivery. If members are unable to perform aspects of their work due to resource shortages, incorrect equipment or unsafe working conditions we request that they log these incidents with their Regional Office. If we cannot resolve the problem at a municipal level, the union will escalate the concern to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Many of the problems reported stem from poor planning, unmaintained infrastructure and underfunded budgets,” explained Swanepoel.

In the latest report on local government audit outcomes, the Auditor General emphasised the need for municipal leaders to be accountable for their actions, decisions and policies.  IMATU strongly believes that political leaders and municipal officials alike, must be able to demonstrate how their decisions align with constitutional mandates and their municipality’s integrated development plan. Leaders must be answerable to the communities they serve, especially when these communities are not receiving basic services with little hope for future development. IMATU is committed to social transformation through a sustainable local government, this commitment must however be matched with equal assurances that the leaders of our country, provinces and municipalities will act in the public interest, take accountability for their actions and respect the rule of law.

IMATU MOTIVATES FOR AN INTEREST RATE CUT

The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is calling for interest rate cuts ahead of the Monetary Policy Committee’s decision this Thursday.

IMATU has submitted a motivation for the lowering of interest rates to South African Reserve Bank (SARB) Governor, Mr Lesetja Kganyago. IMATU believes that an opportunity exists for the Reserve Bank to simultaneously fulfil its inflation targeting mandate and lower interest rates. Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) is presently recorded at 4.1%, falling below the mid-point of the South African Reserve Bank’s inflation target range of 3% to 6%. Based on the Bank’s own forecasts, headline inflation is expected to remain below 5% this year, with annual CPI calculated at 4.8%.

“While we acknowledge the Monetary Policy Committee’s mandate to manage inflationary increases, we remain concerned about our country’s poor domestic growth forecasts and escalating unemployment figures. Many of our members and South African consumers are cash-strapped, financially burdened and indebted. A decision to decrease interest rates will not risk a breach of the target range, to the contrary, lower interest rates will result in increased disposable income, promoting growth through enhanced household spending capacity,” explained IMATU General Secretary, Johan Koen.

 IMATU has urged the Governor to lower interest rates in order to promote growth and simulate consumer spending.

High unemployment, low economic growth and overstretched consumers necessitate the need to provide financial relief where possible. IMATU believes that further interest rate increases coupled with increases in electricity tariffs, fuel, food and transport costs will place unbearable financial pressure on consumers.

IMATU COMES TO THE ASSISTANCE OF THE VULNERABLE IN MAKANA MUNICIPALITY

The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is dismayed by the current water crisis in Makhanda and the ongoing suffering caused to community members.

As part of its social responsibility programme, IMATU will be supplying drinking water to Home of Joy and McKaizer Old Age Home in Makhanda, as well as contributing to the intervention efforts of Gift of the Givers.

“It is hugely important for IMATU and its members to support and serve our communities. Our shop stewards identified Home of Joy and McKaizer Old Age Home as organisations caring for vulnerable members of our society and most in need of our help. We are in a position to assist with short-term relief, but also believe that sustainable solutions must be found to provide water security for Makhanda residents in the future. IMATU has therefore also pledged R13 000 towards the sinking of boreholes and installing of filtration systems via our donation to Gift of the Givers,” explained IMATU Eastern Cape Regional Manager, Churchill Mothapo.

Makhanda, formerly known as Grahamstown, declared a local state of disaster on 25 February 2019 amidst ongoing water shortages. The town’s water supply has been erratic for a long time, but the situation worsened at the start of this year due to the regional draught and lack of water supply infrastructure maintenance.

“Despite several political resignations, replacements and a newly elected Makana Mayor, our members have confirmed that the situation in Makhanda remains critical. Water cuts have disrupted households, businesses and places of learning, while also creating serious sanitation problems. While depleted dam levels have played a role, poor management, faltering leadership and a complete lack of maintenance of infrastructure has resulted in a water crisis. Our members want to be part of the solution but adequate resources must be channelled towards effective supply chain management, adequate procurement and the creation of a long-term strategy. Sustainable local government requires that the commitment of municipal employees must be met with political will and decisive leadership,” concluded Mothapo.

IMATU Eastern Cape Staff and Makhanda shop stewards will be handing over the organisation’s donations on Tuesday, 19 March 2019.

IMATU OPPOSES RETRENCHMENTS AT INKOSI LANGALIBALELE MUNICIPALITY

The Independent Municipal and Allied Workers Union (IMATU) will again meet with members of the Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality management team on Monday, 18 March 2019 at the Municipal Council Chambers. This engagement will be facilitated by the CCMA, discussions will relate to the financial status of the municipality and job security of employees.

IMATU succeeded in halting the intended mass retrenchment of municipal workers last month. While the Municipality’s organogram makes provision for close to 1000 employees, it currently only employs 598 people and gave notice of its intention to retrench 248 of these employees late last year.

The municipality was placed under Administration by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in 2017 and its financial problems have gotten progressively worse. The Administrator, who initiated the mass retrenchment process, resigned in December 2018. IMATU met with the newly appointed Administrator on 27 February 2019 to discuss the municipality’s current financial position.

“We hope that the employer has adequately reviewed its financial status and realised that the municipality needs to address wasteful expenditure and poor management instead of cutting jobs. Municipalities are constitutionally mandated to provide services to communities in a sustainable manner and the municipal workforce is pivotal in ensuring the provision of these services. The salaries of workers must be provided for in any municipality’s budget.” explained KwaZulu Natal Regional Manager, Cathi Botes

IMATU members will peacefully picket outside the Council Chambers during their lunch break to highlight the severity of their situation and the financial mismanagement that has been allowed to take place.

Date: 18 March 2019
Time: 12h30 – 13h00
Venue: Council Chambers, Civic Building, Victoria Street, Estcourt

“IMATU will vehemently oppose any threats to the conditions of service or job security of our members. Retrenchment of workers is a short-term solution to the systemic problems facing so many of our municipalities. A clear, sustainable solution must be found that addresses inefficiencies but most importantly tackles the real problems of poor planning, intermittent leadership and financial irregularities,” concluded Botes.

IMATU CELEBRATES INTERNATIONAL WOMAN’S DAY

Today marks International Women’s Day and we would like to take the opportunity to thank our strong, brave and dedicated female members.

IMATU is very proud of our increasing female membership and are working hard towards maintaining 40% female representation across our shop steward and leadership structures.

Thank you to the women of IMATU. Thank you for the role you play at work and the role you play at home.

This organisation is stronger for having your support.

IMATU COMMENTS ON SONA

The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) is in the process of reviewing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) that was delivered last night.

“IMATU members, like all South Africans, are concerned by escalating living costs, unemployment, economic challenges, infrastructure needs and the provision of basic services. We welcome the President’s commitment to municipal infrastructure investment, economic recovery and strengthening the fight against systemic corruption and maladministration,” stated IMATU General Secretary, Johan Koen.

While the President indicated that processes are underway to stabilise and support poorly performing municipalities, IMATU believes that increased interventions are needed. Decisive leadership, better oversight of supply chain management processes, appropriately skilled personnel and the implementation of the Auditor General’s recommendations will greatly assist in the combating of corruption and improvement of service delivery.

“As an organisation, we have already identified and discussed many of the challenges highlighted in this year’s SONA. Two of our key focus areas within the local government sector remain water and energy security. Municipalities are constitutionally mandated to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner and are responsible for the supply of electricity and in many cases water to South African households,” explained Koen.

In this regard, IMATU applauds the President’s determination to confront the culture of non-payment that exists in some communities.

“Free basic electricity and access to water is imperative. It is however necessary to resolutely tackle the growing problem of municipal debt and poor payment recovery in the local government sector. In order to create a sustainable service delivery model, individuals and households will have to pay for these services when consuming over and above the stipulated free basic municipal allocation. This month Cabinet will consider a detailed implementation plan to assist utilities in reducing debt, increasing collection and ultimately improving the potential income generation of municipalities. We are hopeful that this process, coupled with strategies provided in the upcoming National Budget Speech, will provide a financial roadmap for local government recovery and success,” he concluded.