Umkhanyakude Municipality staff end cellphone allowance protest
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DURBAN - A WEEK-LONG cellphone allowance protest in the troubled Umkhanyakude Municipality has ended after Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs’ intervention.
Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka visited the municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday and held a special meeting with the protesting staff, council and senior managers.
Cogta spokesperson Senzo Mzila told the Daily News that the MEC’s visit yielded positive results and workers had returned after their issues were resolved.
He said the problems, including the cellphone allowances, were discussed with the MEC and workers would take them forward with management.
Independent Municipality and Allied Trade Union regional secretary Njabulo Mthiyane said it was agreed that the workers would receive their allowances retrospectively when they received their salaries at the end of the month.
Mthiyane said the main problem was about two municipal managers who could not agree on who should sign for the money.
The Daily News understands that Mxolisi Nkosi is still fighting his suspension in the Pietermaritzburg High Court and the acting manager was Sabelo Madela.
Mthiyane said the MEC confirmed Madela as the acting manager.
Mayor Tim Moodley said since he took over he had never received his tools of trade which included laptops, cellphones and a mayoral car.
He said he was not perturbed by this but he was concerned about service delivery to the communities.
He confirmed that all workers had returned to work.
The protests started last Tuesday and continued with workers demanding the reinstatement of their cellphone allowances cancelled in May allegedly by the administrator.
At least 45 managers, 12 councillors and the mayor were affected by the administrator’s decision resulting in them using their own money to buy airtime and data to do municipality work.
One staffer said the administrator was taken to the bargaining council and agreed that he would pay the workers retrospectively, but had failed to honour the agreement.
Labour relations specialist Bantu Sibiya, who represented affected staff, said the bargaining council last month had ruled that the employer reinstate benefits by paying back retrospectively, which meant payments must be backdated.
The municipality has been plagued by administrative and political problems since last year, which prompted MEC Hlomuka to intervene. He appointed the administrator earlier in the year.