Cosatu urged for swift action from national and provincial governments regarding municipalities failing to disburse worker salaries.
Workers in Mafube Municipality, Free State, were reportedly notified of a three-month salary delay, while employees in Ditsobotla Municipality, North West, have reportedly gone unpaid since October.
Matthew Parks, the acting national spokesperson for COSATU, expressed the labour federation's anger upon discovering that certain municipalities persist in not paying workers their salaries on time.
“We call on these municipalities to pay workers what is due to them, or we will work with Samwu (South African Municipal Workers Union) to take them to court and have their assets attached,” Parks said.
He also said the number of delinquent municipalities defaulting on paying their employees has risen from 20 in four provinces to 27 in six provinces over the last year.
“These and other delinquent municipalities are failing workers who are already battling to cope with a cost-of-living crisis.”
Parks said some municipalities have been found to be deducting taxes, pension and medical funds from workers’ salaries and then failing to transfer those funds as legally required.
“This has put retiring workers in poverty and seen employees seeking medical treatment being turned away as their medical aids have lapsed,” he added.
According to Parks, Cosatu has been calling on the government to put in place a turnaround strategy to revive the 80% of municipalities experiencing financial distress.
He said Cosatu fully supported the call by Samwu for the national and provincial governments to intervene in the distressed municipalities.
“Although national government does not control the local government, it nevertheless has important powers,” he said.
“National government bears the primary responsibility for national policy and legislation within which local government operates. Fiscal policy determines the level of financial flows to local government. Under fiscal austerity, transfers to local government have declined,” Parks said.
He added that a new funding model was needed to halt the rapid deterioration of local government.
“This needs to include fast tracking the roll out of the District Development Model. It is clear we cannot sustain many of the 259 municipalities, many of whom lack a sufficient rate base to sustain them.”