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Overtime pay pits King Cetshwayo District Municipality against water tanker drivers

The mayor of the district, Thami Ntuli, said they felt that the system was being abused and if nothing was done, the municipality would have collapsed. File Picture: Bongani Mbatha: African News Agency /ANA

The mayor of the district, Thami Ntuli, said they felt that the system was being abused and if nothing was done, the municipality would have collapsed. File Picture: Bongani Mbatha: African News Agency /ANA

Published May 18, 2022

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Durban - A new shift system that was implemented to control overtime pay for water tanker drivers by the King Cetshwayo District Municipality has pitted the entity against the drivers, allegedly creating a water delivery crisis.

The IFP-run district municipality, which is anchored in Richards Bay, northern KwaZulu-Natal is made up of the City of uMhlathuze (Mpangeni-Richards Bay), uMlalazi (eShowe), Mthonjaneni (Melmoth), Nkandla and Umfolozi local municipalities.

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In the past workers were allowed to work overtime to deliver water in rural areas. However, the number of hours worked was slashed, with the 42 water tanker drivers restricted to working from 7am to 4pm.

Insiders in the water department claimed this has resulted in some areas not receiving water and some communities resorting to delivery protests.

“We were surprised when we were told we will have to work short hours even though we are understaffed and have to work overtime to deliver water to poor communities. This has created a water crisis that has forced some communities to engage in crippling protests,” said one insider.

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Another insider said the measure by the municipality came at a time when some communities were complaining that since the IFP took over from the ANC in November last year, communities who were getting water tankers three or four times a week were now getting them twice a week.

“This is a crisis manufactured by the new administration and we have no idea why they are going ahead with it even though the negative consequences of it are there for all to see,” said the second insider. One driver who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity said the decision by the municipality has left many of them dissatisfied and feeling victimised.

“We were working overtime and delivering water to the communities as stipulated. It’s not that we were claiming overtime for work we did not do. We worked hard for the overtime, yet they felt it was necessary to end it like this,” said the driver.

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However, the acting municipal manager in the district municipality, Philani Sibiya, dismissed the claims. He said the decision to cut the overtime was in line with the country’s labour laws which stipulated that a worker should not work more than 40 hours of overtime a month.

“What we found was that some people were tripling their overtime claims, earning three more times their salaries. The municipality did not stop the overtime, instead, it was capped to the 40 hours a month which is legislated. In the past, the pay for overtime was not controlled,” Sibiya said, adding that they were spending almost R1 million on paying overtime, which was unacceptable.

According to Sibiya, the money saved will be used to employ 40 more tanker drivers, increasing their driver tally to 82. As a result, the staff complement will be increased and so will water delivery, as they will have a 6am to 6pm shift of rotating drivers.

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He added that there was no water crisis and they were not victimising anyone, but some drivers were trying to create a water crisis.

“It is not all the drivers who are doing this, it’s only a few. Some of our drivers are responsible people not involved in all this. People are trying to create a crisis because they lost their irregular income. By the way, the issue of overtime does not only apply to drivers, other employees are included.”

The mayor of the district, Thami Ntuli, said they felt the system was being abused and if nothing was done, the municipality would have collapsed.

“We acted because taxpayers’ money was being abused, hence we stopped this. Some general workers were earning up to R40 000, more than even managers. A lot was wrong when we took over and we are now fixing everything,” Ntuli said.

Daily News

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