R800k for workers
The bankrupt Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) is due to pay some of its workers about R800,000 this month to kick-start the “harmonisation” process that was supposed to have been done in 2016 with the amalgamation of three municipalities.
About 250 EMLM staffers who worked for the former Nkwanca, Tsolwana and Lukhanji local municipalities will be compensated for having been incorrectly paid since 2016.
However, the local authority and the unions represented in the municipality agreed after numerous engagements that workers would only be paid for the preceding months of this financial year, and not from 2016.
EMLM administrator Vuyo Mlokothi said during a joint press briefing with the labour representatives on Tuesday that the first payment would be made this month, and that the municipality would only pay 50% of what was due to the workers.
“Another payment of 50% as the back pay together with 100% will be made in June 2019.The final payment of 50% as the back pay together with 100% will be made in August 2019 [sic].
“The total amount that will be paid to the affected employees is not R18m, contrary to what was previously reported. After engagement with the unions we agreed to pay about R9m in total because everyone understands that the municipality is cash-strapped.”
Mlokothi said the harmonisation payout would come from revenue that has and will be collected by the municipality and not from government grants because they were meant for service delivery.
“We have been emphatic to the unions that the municipality is still not viable. Just because we have received the majority of our grants does not mean we are in a good financial state. That money is for service delivery and that is where it will be directed to.”
The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) secretary in Enoch Mgijima, Thabo Ngwane, said labour unions were satisfied with the agreement they had with the municipality.
“Some issues like the grading of the municipality and the sale of municipal land were
withdrawn. Other matters like the permanent employment of contract workers and interns and filling of vacant budgeted positions will be fulfilled, subject to the availability of funds and the criticality of the post.”
Addressing the issue of costs incurred by the municipality during the strike, Ngwane said he had informed the leadership in the municipality after an agreement last Friday that all Samwu members would help clean up the town on Monday.
“I was surprised to see people cleaning over the weekend because we said all workers, whether they worked in offices or not, were going to help clean the town so we should not be held responsible for the money spent to clean. However we sincerely apologise to the people of Komani for the inconvenience caused. We also need it to be understood that we were doing what was right for the workers at the time.”
EMLM mayor Sisisi Tolashe said the municipality was not in a position to quantify the damage caused to infrastructure by the strike, but understood it cost a lot of money.
“Understand that the strike happened at the beginning of December and people had been paid in their work places, while most businesses pay the municipality on the start of each month. We lost all those payments and we urge everyone to come forward and pay for services because all municipal offices are operational now.”
The mayor also apologised to Komani residents about the rubbish strewn about town and the inconvenience caused by offices closed during the strike.
MAYOR SISISI TOLASHE