The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) has noted with great concern the trend by several municipalities that have indicated that workers’ salaries for the month of May will be delayed. The Ditsobotsa, Lekwa-Teema, Emfuleni and Kareeberg Local municipalities in North West, Gauteng and Northern Cape have indicated that workers will this month be receiving their salaries late.
On the other hand, the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality has also written to employees informing them that third parties such as medical aid and pension and allowances such as standby, shift, and camping allowances will only be paid in the first week of June. We have also received reports that workers at Lepelle Northern Water have not been paid their performance bonuses as per the contract of employment.
As SAMWU, we have noted that municipalities have made it fashionable to pay workers their salaries late, particularly the Ditsobotsa Local Municipality which is for the second time this year delaying payment of employees’ salaries, with notices of such delays only being communicated to employees on the eve of pay day.
The failure by municipalities to pay is symbolic of the financial strain that the country’s municipalities are facing. We have as a Union been calling for the review of municipal funding model to ensure that municipalities do deliver on their constitutional mandate. We are of the view that the current municipal funding model as it is, deliberately sets up municipalities for failure.
We can however not only blame the funding model for the financial situation which municipalities find themselves in. When Ditsobola Local Municipality failed to pay employees in February, the Union leadership held a meeting with the municipal management, only to be told that the municipality has not been billing clients since July 2022. Municipalities therefore need to ensure that they put in place revenue collection mechanisms so they can supplement their finances to be able to meet their financial obligations, especially the payment of employees’ salaries. Additionally, the municipality has failed to fill key vacancies such as Section 56 and 57 managers, resulting in the institution not being able to optimally function.
The Emfuleni Local Municipality is also a repeat offender in delaying employees’ salaries. On several occasions, the municipality has had its bank account attached by Eskom due to non-payment. We are informed that the current delay in the payment of salaries is as a result of the municipality’s bank account being attached by Eskom.
As SAMWU, we call on the Provincial Government to intervene at the Emfuleni Local Municipality. The decision by the Provincial Government to remove the municipality under administration was ill-timed as there is no proof that the municipality has improved its finances and is in a better position to deliver services to residents.
We further call on the National Treasury to fast-track the allocation of the R56 billion that was announced by the Minister of Finances as Eskom relief grant. We are of the view that this relief grant will assist many ailing municipalities to refocus some of the resources that they have to servicing other debts and importantly the payment of salaries for employees. Municipalities such Emfuleni and their employees cannot continue being punished for the failures which are not of their own making.
As SAMWU, we therefore demand the immediate intervention of the Gauteng, North West and Northern Cape Provincial Governments in these municipalities. If elected leaders and municipal management are unable to lead these municipalities into success, Provincial Governments should intervene as Constitutionally mandated.
Our immediate demand is the payment of these workers’ salaries, it cannot be that employees have laboured for these municipalities for a month with dedication and diligence, yet when the time for salary payment comes, they receive letters. All these workers should receive their salaries with immediate effect. We further demand that the Lepelle Northern Water Board pays all employees their performance bonuses with immediate effect.
Issued by SAMWU Secretariat
Dumisane Magagula, General Secretary, (076 580 4029), Nkhetheni Muthavhi, Deputy General Secretary (082 526 5224) or Papikie Mohale, National Media Officer (076 795 8670