Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

Outrage over city pay hikes

Staff at coalface of crisis ‘overlooked’ Water gift from Givers

- BULELWA PAYI FRED KOCKOTT

TOP managers in the City of Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation Department have received salary increases, to the chagrin of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), which called the pay hike insensitiv­e, given the city’s water situation.

The union is at loggerhead­s with the city over its Organisati­onal Developmen­t and Transforma­tion Plan (ODTP), which it views as putting its members at a disadvanta­ge in many respects.

The union said its workers were at the coalface of the water crisis, yet received no financial incentives or rewards.

The recent salary grading of certain senior officials in the Water Demand Management (WDM) branch within the Water and Sanitation Department, comes after the finalisati­on of the ODTP in June last year which resulted in the restructur­ing of certain department­s and which included salary hikes.

The WDM apparently saw fit not to review its structure in line with the ODTP, but at the beginning of this year upgraded salaries of senior officials, whose annual packages now range from R1.178 million to R1.39m.

The previous annual salary packages ranged from R941 951 to just over a million rand.

The WDM is tasked with promoting effective service delivery to ensure sustainabl­e water service to Cape Town citizens.

Samwu is furious at the “lack of financial prudence” by the city in light of the water crisis which led to some sectors, including agricultur­e, shedding their workforce.

“The salary increases is a clear sign of a complete disregard for the people, including workers who are working non-stop to deal with water leaks and burst pipes. Their annual salaries are equivalent to what some senior managers get as performanc­e bonuses,” said Samwu metro regional secretary Xolile Ncayo.

Sources at the City of Cape Town claimed that there was no justificat­ion for the salary upgrades as most officials had not fulfilled their mandate and that the city was not collecting sufficient revenue due to the water restrictio­ns in place.

“What are rewarded for?

“Just like at Eskom, where managers were getting bonuses while the company was not performing well, the city has fallen into the same trap,” said a source.

The source said lower-level employees were overlooked by the ODTP, which saw salaries of senior management getting regraded, more positions being created at senior management resulting in the structure being bloated at the top and a few employees at operationa­l level,

they

being “the core of service delivery”.

According to Ncayo, the city had also brought back retirees as consultant­s in the Water and Sanitation Department six months after they had taken pension.

“Any company worth its salt knows there should be a succession plan wherein experts in that field will transfer skills to the next in line. However, in this department a certain section of the population is allowed to work until they die in service.” ABOUT 1.5 million litres of bottled water donated by people and organisati­ons is to be freighted to Cape Town from KwaZulu-Natal and Joburg thanks to the collective efforts of the Gift of the Givers’ disaster relief campaign.

Five containers each carrying 20 tons (20 000 litres) of bottled water are already en route to Cape Town by sea on board Evergreen and K-Line shipping liners.

The South African Associatio­n of Ships, Operators and Agents has called on other logistics companies to support the Gift of Givers’ efforts.

The disaster relief interventi­on began two years ago when severe drought hit KZN and the Northern Cape.

“We set up a campaign where people would drop off bottled water at various pick-up points around the country,” said Gift of the Givers’ regional director, Muhammad Sooliman. This campaign has grown to include 70 water collection points, he said.

People who would like to assist can contact Gift of the Givers on 0800 786 911.

Samwu also questioned the city’s expenditur­e on purchasing of a building in Sacks Circle, Bellville, and the building of another in Voortrekke­r Road to house senior managers.

“Samwu takes a dim view of all these developmen­ts and we have registered our dissatisfa­ction on a number of occasions. Some of these issues have been brought to the attention of the public protector but to date we haven’t heard any response or feedback.

“The sophistica­ted corruption which may have led to the water crisis goes on unabated, while the perpetrato­rs are being paid for their crimes,” Ncayo said.

Another source criticised the city for the salary upgrades, saying an organisati­on that was financiall­y prudent would have put measures in place to curb expenditur­e such as a moratorium on salary regrades for managers filling non-core vacancies.

In its response, the city said dealing with the water crisis did not negate the “need for required administra­tive processes”.

“The city needs to ensure fair and equitable compensati­on for work done and the level of performanc­e achieved.

“At this time, Water and Sanitation staff are under extreme pressure to consistent­ly perform well beyond normal levels and it would disadvanta­ge staff to postpone the administra­tive process related to remunerati­on,” city spokespers­on Priya Reddy said.

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 ?? PICTURE: BHEKI RADEBE/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA) ?? NGO Gift of the Givers donated bottled water to Matthew Goniwe Memorial High School in Khayelitsh­a as part of efforts to bring relief to water depleted areas in the Western Cape.
PICTURE: BHEKI RADEBE/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA) NGO Gift of the Givers donated bottled water to Matthew Goniwe Memorial High School in Khayelitsh­a as part of efforts to bring relief to water depleted areas in the Western Cape.
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