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Community up in arms over pay and conditions of former Knysna municipal workers on EPWP contracts

EPWP workers Buffelskop Campsite in Knysna Picture supplied

EPWP workers Buffelskop Campsite in Knysna Picture supplied

Published Jan 18, 2023


Cape Town - Community organisation Knysna United is up in arms about the pay and working conditions of former Knysna Municipality workers who have since been re-hired on Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) contracts.

Knysna United chairperson Ralph Stander said he came across some EPWP workers while camping at Buffelskop and they told him they were being overworked and underpaid.

Stander said the workers told him they were working more than 12 hours a day, every day, including weekends, Sundays and public holidays, and that they don’t get overtime.

“How can the municipality allow something like this? Does the municipality know that all these actions are illegal and what are they going to do about it? We are putting the municipality on terms and demand that the situation must be rectified,” Stander said.

The Cape Argus spoke to one of the workers, who said he had worked at the site for four years.

EPWP workers at the Buffelskop campsite in Knysna Picture supplied

“I was first on contract under the Knysna Municipality but for the last two years I have been working for EPWP after the municipality said they could no longer afford to keep us on as casuals. The choice was to either join up on EPWP or be unemployed.

“Two years ago, as a municipal worker, our supervisor was earning R300 a day and now he is earning R150 a day, while other workers are earning R120 a day.”

The municipality’s spokesperson Nwabisa Pondoyi said it would not deal with labour-related matters through the media.

Pondoyi said: “Should the employees have been aggrieved for any reason whatsoever, they should have addressed their concerns with our EPWP co-ordinator.”

She said the aim of the EPWP programme was to create temporary work opportunities for unemployed individuals.

“There are strict criteria which the municipality must adhere to and cannot deviate from, which includes working hours. This municipality is regularly applauded for its EPWP achievements.”