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Ethekwini mulls replacing overtime pay with an allowance to rein in ballooning security expenditure

Security officials, tasked with protecting eThekwini Municipality’s councillors, among others, could lose their overtime pay benefits

Security officials, tasked with protecting eThekwini Municipality’s councillors, among others, could lose their overtime pay benefits

Published Sep 3, 2021

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Durban - SECURITY officials, tasked with protecting eThekwini Municipality’s councillors, among others, could lose their overtime pay benefits, as the city seeks to implement changes aimed at curbing the ballooning costs of overtime.

Head of security management Dumisani Bhengu told the finance committee recently that they were looking at contain overtime expenditure in the security cluster, and replace it with an allowance.

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Apart from VIP security officers, other units that could be affected by the proposed change are the land invasion unit, rapid response and escort unit, security officers that look after the City Hall, and those working on the city streets.

The move could trigger a backlash from the labour unions, who said they have not been consulted about the move, and that it was the duty of the city to properly manage its overtime budget.

Bhengu briefed members of the committee on the proposed change, as they were discussing his unit's request for more funds for overtime pay. The Mercury reported recently that the security management unit had requested an additional R60 million for overtime pay, to cover its ever-increasing overtime bill for security officials, including those protecting councillors.

Bhengu said they were considering doing away with overtime pay and replacing it with an allowance. He did not elaborate on the changes, only saying there were ongoing negotiations with the relevant stakeholders.

The City’s audit committee has complained several times about the excessiveness of overtime pay, saying even the measures that had been implemented by the city to control it were not bearing any fruits. The security unit and metro police were the two units that have been flagged for the abuse of overtime.

The Mercury reported, in July last year, that the city’s metro police and security unit racked up overtime claims of almost R90 million in just one month, as some staff claimed to have worked almost 300 hours more during the lockdown.

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This year, it reported that metro police needed an extra R60m for overtime pay over five months, to provide an efficient service and that, at the height of the lockdown, the unit had claimed R100m in overtime pay.

Councillors present at the committee meeting said they were still unclear how the proposal would work, without contravening the law. DA councillor Zandile Mkhize said they had asked to be “workshopped” on how this proposal would be implemented

“We were told that the matter is still being discussed. We cannot see the need for overtime pay for the security. There have been many instances of crime that we have witnessed or been victims of, even around City Hall – where there is security? That undermines calls for paying overtime,” said Mkhize.

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DA councillor Chris Van den Bergh told said: “If people have worked overtime, you cannot get away with not paying them for that overtime. Overtime abuse is a major issue and there have been allegations where some security officials were claiming as much as 300 hours.

“That is something not humanly possible to do, that means you would not be sleeping. It exposes the employer to liability, especially in the instance where a person has to drive and carry a firearm – if anything happens, the employer is liable,” he said.

IFP councillor Jane Naidoo said while overtime claims were exorbitant, the city was in disarray and it was difficult to see how it would be able to put containment measures in place.

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Xolani Dube, of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), said they the proposal would be rejected.

“That is something we would not agree to – overtime has clear processes and calculations of how it must be paid,” said Dube.

Regional chairperson of the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) Queen Mbatha said they had not had any engagements with the municipality, adding that this proposal was something they would not support.

She said the city had a responsibility to make the allocation of overtime fair, fill in vacancies where there are gaps, and put forward a shift system – so it could reduce its exposure to overtime claims.

The Mercury

Related Topics:

eThekwini municipality

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