Msunduzi clamps down on overtime abuse
Durban - The Msunduzi Municipality is clamping down on the abuse of overtime pay that has been partially blamed for bringing the municipality to the brink of bankruptcy.
Workers are now allowed to work only up to 10 hours of overtime a month. But limiting overtime pay has sparked an outcry, especially among residents left without services for extended periods. They said the municipality should at least bring in outside contractors to attend to emergency faults.
This weekend, the northern suburbs, including Northdale, were again left without electricity for most of Saturday. The area was among those hard hit when the city’s infrastructure was damaged by a storm recently.
On Saturday, residents in the northern suburbs said they were without power for 10 hours. It was restored at 7.30pm and went out again shortly after that.
It was not immediately clear what caused the outage, but poor maintenance, illegal connections and a stressed network have been cited as possible problems.
The recent storm caused damage estimated at R2.8 billion, forcing the city to apply to be declared a disaster area. It also exposed the fragility of the infrastructure.
Msunduzi mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla said overtime claims had to be reined in. It was reported recently that during the national lockdown, the workers had claimed about R10 million in overtime pay.
“The municipality is currently under administration. One of the problems that led us to this point is the abuse of overtime. We had to put a stop to that,” Thebolla said.
“Overtime is supposed to be regulated through an agreement in the bargaining council. The workers are supposed to work no more than 40 hours per month. But in Msunduzi people are working 72 to 100 hours, that is not acceptable.
“One of the things I said in my address was that I wanted to bring back the work ethic among municipal workers. We appreciate our workers, but you cannot have a situation where a fault is reported at 10am and only fixed at 3pm so people could claim overtime, which is something that has been happening,” he said.
Thebolla said the council would also fill vacancies to ensure there was no need for overtime. “We have not done away with stand-by allowances. In pressing cases, we are open to ‘controlled overtime’.
As for the weekend power outages, Thebolla said while he could not speak on whether the outages had been addressed, the area was facing electricity pressure as a substation in the area had been burnt.
DA councillor Rooksana Ahmed said electricity supply was a serious concern for residents and the municipality should make use of private contractors.
Minnesh Parmanand, of the Msunduzi Ratepayers Forum, said the power outages had become a regular occurrence.
“That week (of the storm) we were without power for three days and again on Saturday, there were several areas that were out,” he said.