The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in the Northern Cape province is deeply saddened and agitated by the actions of the management of the Renosterburg Local Municipality which have led to workers at the institution not receiving their December salaries as per their contract of employment with the municipality. Almost 100 workers at had a black Christmas as a result of the failure of the municipality to pay their salaries and wages.
We are deeply concerned by the management failures at the municipality, in a space of two months following the November 2021 Local Government Elections, the municipality has had 2 Municipal Managers, with the first one abruptly resigning from her position. The new Municipal Manager is seemingly unable to stabilise the institution.
Workers now have to bear the brunt of executive failures at the institution, their families could not enjoy Christmas with their families like other workers in the country as they could not put food on the table for them nor buy essentials that are associated with Christmas such as gifts and clothes for their children.
Of great concern to us is that the municipality has failed to communicate with workers as to when their salaries will be paid. As a result, workers are unable to prepare their children for school when they open in the next few days, their children will be without uniforms, stationery and their fees will go unpaid.
As SAMWU, we have been consistent that the problems that the country’s municipalities face are financial in nature and as such, a financial solution is needed. It is for this reason that as a union we have been calling for a review of the municipal funding regime so to ensure that poor municipalities are better funded to enable them to continue delivering services to residents without fail while also paying workers their salaries in full and in time.
The problems of the Renosterburg Local Municipality were exacerbated when Eskom attached the municipality’s bank account due to non-payment. For a long period, the municipality has been failing to pay workers their salaries on time while third parties such as pension funds, medical aids and funereal policies have not been paid for a period of time.
We therefore as SAMWU call for the immediate payment of workers’ salaries at the Renosterburg Local Municipality, with interest. The failure to immediately pay salaries will result in workers withdrawing their labour thus affecting services in towns such as Petrusville, Phillipstown, and Vanderkloof.
We further call on the Northern Cape Provincial Government to intervene through Section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution and dissolve the municipality as it has failed to deliver on its constitutional mandate. We also urge the Provincial Government to ensure that there are bilaterals between themselves and Eskom with the intention of ensuring that the power utility does not attach municipal bank accounts as this route has serious implications for service delivery to residents and workers.
Furthermore, the Provincial Government and the National Treasury should work together in ensuring that municipalities are properly funded and where needs be like in the case of Renosteerburg long-lasting interventions are put in place to ensure that situations like this do not reoccur in the future. As SAMWU, we are interested in seeing municipalities that are stable and able to deliver services to residents without fail.
We are therefore giving the Renosterburg Local Municipality and the Northern Cape Provincial Government until Friday the 7th to ensure that all workers are paid their salaries with interest. The Provincial Government as mandated by the Constitution should by the stipulated deadline ensure that they have intervened in the municipality.
As we have said earlier, the failure to intervene and pay workers their salaries will result in workers withdrawing their labour. We cannot allow municipal workers to be turned into slaves by a democratic government.
Issued by SAMWU Northern Cape
Lawrance Fennie, Provincial Secretary (071 889 2023), Thobeka Mthintelwa, Deputy Provincial Secretary (076 329 8860) or Peter Demas, Regional Secretary (071 269 1470).