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eThekwini Municipality staff told not to panic, annual bonuses will be paid

Mxolisi Kaunda eThekwini Municipality mayor. Picture: Faceboook

Mxolisi Kaunda eThekwini Municipality mayor. Picture: Faceboook

Published Jun 9, 2022

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Durban - Following a comment made on Tuesday by eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda that municipality staff might not get their annual bonuses this year, officials have since clarified the matter, saying payments will be made.

The staff have now been told that bonuses, like in previous years, will be paid out - albeit only to qualifying members of staff.

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On Tuesday, while addressing a full council sitting to debate the R55.5 billion budget, Kaunda said city workers across the board might not be paid bonuses.

According to The Mercury, the Daily News’s sister publication, Kaunda said the workers will still receive their salary increment as per conditions set at the bargaining council.

“Staff bonuses at all levels have not been budgeted for in terms of the austerity measures that we are putting in place,” Kaunda told the council on Tuesday.

However, Kaunda did not clarify whether he was referring to the 13th cheque or service bonus, as the two differ.

A 13th cheque is a bonus that the employee can expect every year if this forms part of their employment contract. A service bonus, on the other hand, is a reward based on the employee's performance and the performance of the business. This differentiation is usually made clear in an employee's contract of employment.

He reportedly added that there was no expectation that the council would pay bonuses when it could not afford them, saying bonuses were not a right.

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The internal eThekwini Municipality memo on bonuses.

According to eThekwini insiders, the news caused panic among staff, forcing their management to issue an internal memo to clarify the matter.

“People were panicking that after putting so much work in, (in) expectation that they will be rewarded at the end of the year, bonuses were not going to be paid. Remember that some people get good bonuses and they use them to enjoy their December festive season; the news was very depressing to many staff members,” said an insider.

To calm down the panicking workforce estimated to number around 24 000, the municipality’s chief financial officer, Sandile Mnguni, and the deputy city manager for corporate and human capital, Pinky Kunene, said all is on track for “service bonuses”.

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“Dear Colleagues, there seems to be confusion based on the comments made in terms of the finalisation of the 2022/2023 budget. Please note that service bonuses that are normally payable in November of each year have been provided for and will be paid in November 2022 for qualifying employees, based on the qualification criteria for service bonuses,” reads the internal memo sent to staff.

Kaunda’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mntungwa, said there was no confusion over the matter and the mayor made the comment while trying to clarify that the adjustments in the budget would not affect staff salaries.

“The circular is simply meant to clarify the issue (of staff bonuses), so, there is no confusion over the matter,” he said.

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Due to Covid-19 taking up a great deal of municipal finances, some staff members have been deprived of their annual performance bonuses, which used to be paid around June. However, other staff members, even junior ones, are still getting them.

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