The Congress of South African Trade Unions in the Free State condemns the consistent failure of some municipalities to pay salaries of workers across the province. The non-payment of salaries has been persistent despite the introduction of multiple interventions to help resolve this unacceptable situation. Municipalities are clearly disregarding any attempts to give workers what is due to them.
Despite the deployment of intervention teams at various municipalities with challenges, the problems remain. Additionally, we have been informed that in many instances equitable share funds allocated to municipalities by national government, are depleted within a few days.
As stipulated in the latest Auditor-General’s report, the state of municipalities in the Free State is dire. The non-payment of workers is an illustration of the adverse outcomes that have emanated from the inability of these municipalities to manage funds and their affairs. As a result, workers are being robbed of their rights to survive and put bread on the table for their families.
Whilst workers have been exposed to non-payment of their third parties with no consequences, it is now spreading to non-compliance with the contractual obligation.
The current developments coupled with the recent AG report is enormously concerning. The quality of fiscal management practices is rapidly declining, and municipalities are refusing to carry out their duties. Furthermore, there is no accountability for the deterioration of these municipalities.
The current economic system has pushed workers to live from paycheck to paycheck and due to the current co cost of living, salaries and wages of workers are depleted weeks before the next paycheck. Workers have not put themselves in this position. These conditions have been forced on them with the current inflation prices which have led to an increase in high food and fuel prices. Therefore, a delay in the payment of salaries spells out disaster for workers in their individual capacities as breadwinners in their families and households.
We therefore condemn with the strongest possible terms the growing trend of non-payment of salaries by municipalities. What is of greatest concern is that there has not been consequence management for such failures despite it having become a common occurrence. Municipalities have successfully brought the province into disrepute and are continuously contravention the contractual obligations for the employer.
We have also noted the process whereby workers are now paid in kind in a form of vouchers from some ‘lucky’ chain stores. We will investigate whether proper procurement processes have been followed in this regard. As much as this may be viewed as a good gesture by some, workers did not sign up for such payments. Salaries should be paid as per contractual obligation and on the due date.
As the Federation we would like to put the following issues under sharp focus.
* The role of the intervention teams that are deployed to various municipalities under administration: This has failed to bring any change. The objectives and aim of these intervention teams have not yielded any results. We have noted that many municipalities where interventions have been made under the auspices of putting municipalities under administration seem to have worsened the situation.
* Accountability should the prioritized at all levels. Failure to do so has contributed to a negative reputation of the Municipality first, the Ruling Party secondly and even broadened to include the Alliance.
* Wasteful and fruitless expenditure by municipalities whereby critical operational cost factors like salaries of workers are not prioritized.
* We are concerned about the role of COGTA in their oversight and monitoring role as per the constitution. The provincial department operates as a compromised body, unable to bring about corrective measures in realizing clean governance.
As the Federation we will not allow this situation to continue unabated. Workers cannot be forced to always be sacrificial lambs for poor planning by managers and in the process subject innocent lives to hunger and desperation. We will stop at nothing to ensure that workers receive what is due to them at the right time at all costs!
The struggle continues!
Issued by COSATU Free State
Enquiries Provincial Secretary Monyatso oa Mahlatsi @ 051 447 5499 or 076 115 9923