Municipal employees have not been paid salaries and third-party benefit contributions have been disrupted as a direct result of its dire financial situation. The West Rand Municipality invested approximately R70 million with the now-defunct VBS Mutual Bank and workers are bearing the brunt of this mismanagement and poor financial regulation.
IMATU has been advised that the West Rand Municipality has been placed under provincial administration.
While IMATU has been assured by municipal management that salaries will be paid, the union must plan for all eventualities and always in the best interest of its members.
“The Municipality currently employs 598 employees, but intends to retrench 248 of these employees next year. This is just the latest attempt by the Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality to reduce expenditure by downsizing municipal staff as opposed to addressing the real problem of poor financial management. The municipality was established in 2016 after the amalgamation of the Imbabazane and uMtshezi local municipalities. Despite its fairly new establishment, the municipality was placed under Administration by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in 2017 and its financial woes have only gotten worse. Municipal management should be focused on addressing their unsustainable financial practices instead of attempting to retrench half their workforce, which will directly affect service,” explained eThekwini Regional Manager, Cathi Botes.
In July 2018, the Municipality sought to unilaterally adjust and deduct employees’ salaries. Upon hearing of this intended action, IMATU immediately wrote to the acting municipal manager and advised that an urgent application would be launched to prevent the proposed contravened the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. As a result of IMATU’s intervention, no undue adjustments or deductions were made to a single workers salary.
In September 2018 the Municipality then requested an exemption from the rightful implementation of the Salary and Wage Collective Agreement that came in to effect from 1 July 2018. The Municipality claimed that it was not able to pay any annual increases to employees’ salaries. IMATU again filled apposing papers and the Municipality withdrew the application the following month and affected payments to employees, with retrospective effect.
“Municipalities are constitutionally mandated to provide services to communities in a sustainable manner. The municipal workforce is pivotal in ensuring the provision of these services and the salaries of workers must be provided for in any municipality’s budget. In their Section 189A Notice the Municipality outlines the need for restructuring and retrenchment due to its poor financial position. Despite claims by the Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality that they could not afford the annual salary increases, IMATU can confirm that their financial statements reflect R 131 688 000 surplus in 2017-18 financial year,” stated Botes.
IMATU will vehemently oppose any threats to the conditions of service or job security of our members.
Members will be kept updated of any developments in this regard.