Durban - eThekwini Municipality has backtracked on its decision to reduce overtime for Durban Solid Waste (DSW) unit employees after they went on a go-slow that left refuse in several parts of the city uncollected over the past few days.
However, DSW head Raymond Rampersad warned that the unit would run out of money to pay overtime claims before the end of the year.
A workers’ union struck an agreement with the city that reverses an earlier council decision which had instructed that overtime pay be cut by 50% across all departments.
The overtime policy came into effect on Monday, triggering a go-slow by staff members in the sweeping and refuse collection units of DSW.
The go-slow, that left 80% of the areas under the municipality dirty, was finally resolved on Wednesday afternoon in favour of the workers and they returned to work yesterday.
Rampersad confirmed that the workers had reached an agreement with the city, but said he was not involved in the discussions as it was led by the office of the deputy mayor, Philani Mavundla.
He however said that the overtime budget of the unit would be finished before the end of this year and more funds would be required.
Mavundla is the chairperson of the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Committee and had initiated the push for the cut in overtime budgets in favour of using the savings to hire more people.
DSW and metro police are the two city units that have faced criticism regarding overtime claims. The cut in the overtime budget meant that DSW had to reduce their overtime budget from R110 million to R55m.
It therefore meant the workers could only work 16 overtime hours a month, when they had previously been working 32. However, with the city capitulating, the workers will now go back to 32 hours a month.
In the previous financial year, DSW spent R150m on overtime despite having a budget of R110m for overtime costs.
The Mercury understands that the staff members in the sweeping and collection department claim about R70m in overtime a year.
Rampersad warned that the workers would have to earn their overtime.
“We had been paying overtime but the output was not really there in terms of cleanliness based on the expenditure, we cannot continue paying overtime as part of the workers’ salaries while we are not getting the quality of the work we are paying for,” he said.
In a statement, the municipality confirmed the staff were back at work.
“The city would like to inform residents and businesses that refuse collection and street-sweeping services which were affected by the recent go-slow have resumed. Residents are requested to take out their refuse bags on their scheduled collection days. The city apologises for the inconvenience caused,” said the statement.
Queen Mbatha of the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) confirmed that the matter had been resolved to the satisfaction of the workers.
“The whole saga was about the unequal distribution of overtime within the same unit. The employees were complaining about the further reduction/halving of 32 hours overtime per month to 16 while others are still on 40 hours.
“The matter was sorted last night by deputy mayor Mavundla and the status quo on 32 hours remains,” she said.