uMkhanyakude District Municipality administrator, Bamba Ndwandwe defended cellphone allowance cut. Photo: Supplied.
uMkhanyakude District Municipality administrator, Bamba Ndwandwe defended cellphone allowance cut. Photo: Supplied.

uMkhanyakude Municipality staff unhappy with cellphone allowance cut

By Willem Phungula Time of article published Oct 25, 2021

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DURBAN - Anger is boiling again among uMkhanyakude District Municipality staff after the municipality failed to pay their cellphone allowances in full.

Workers were expecting their allowances to be paid in full and retrospectively on Monday as per an agreement reached two weeks ago with Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC Sipho Hlomuka, but workers said they were surprised to find that the agreement was not honoured.

Local chairperson of the SA Municipal Workers Union, Siyabonga Buthelezi told the Daily News on Monday that the employer backtracked from the settlement agreement reached in the bargaining council, and did not pay the allowances in full. He said staff that were supposed to get R1 300 received R840 instead and there was no explanation for this, adding that anger was boiling again among the staff.

“We are going to meet the workers tomorrow (Tuesday) and chart the way forward. We will look at available avenues at our disposal. As leaders we cannot say that we will return to the strike but we will take the mandate from the workers. The employer failed to implement the bargaining council settlement agreement and did not discuss these changes with us as labour unions but unilaterally decided, alone, to again undermine the settlement agreement that was reached in the bargaining council last month,” said Buthelezi.

The administrator, Bamba Ndwandwe, defended his decision to cut the allowances, saying the workers were overpaid because the policy which was adopted by the council in 2013 stipulated that figures ranging from R840 instead of R1 300 were to be paid.

He told the Daily News on Monday that it was wrong to adjust the allowances without council amending the old policy, therefore he used it as it was still applicable.

Earlier this month workers downed tools demanding the reinstatement of the allowances. It was after winning a case at the bargaining council early last month that they were expecting to be paid at the end of last month, which never happened. The strike caused disruption to services which forced Cogta MEC Hlomuka to visit the troubled municipality two weeks ago. The strike ended after the MEC met both staff and management and the agreement reached was that the money would be paid retrospectively from June.

The municipality had cancelled the benefits in May which affected all 45 managers, including 12 councillors and mayor Tim Moodley, forcing the mayor and staff to use money from their own pockets to buy airtime and data to do municipal work.

The municipality has been plagued by administrative and political problems since last year, which prompted the government to intervene, placing it under administration. Ndwandwe was appointed as the administrator early in the year.

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