PMBMsunduzi PietermaritzburgPic: Faceobook
PMBMsunduzi PietermaritzburgPic: Faceobook

Msunduzi Municipality backtracks on overtime stance after resistance from workers

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Dec 2, 2020

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Durban – The Msunduzi Municipality has backed down in its attempts to contain the high cost of overtime pay after it met with several issues, including resistance from workers.

The City released a circular late last month withdrawing two previous circulars it released recently that prescribed how overtime would function.

The two previous circulars had stated the overtime claims were limited to 10 hours a month, and if a worker worked more than 10 hours, they would be compensated with time off and not paid for the extra hours.

The third circular stated it was withdrawing the previous two with no reasons provided.

That means workers can now work up to 40 hours a month in terms of the original agreement under the bargaining conditions.

The overtime, however, can exceed the 40 hours a month as the workers said they work as long as there is a need and the employer requires, even if it is 100 hours a month.

The Mercury understands the municipality backed down following “engagements with management” and due to the recent crisis caused by the storm damage that left many residents without power.

It is understood workers had stuck to the directives of the first circulars and refused to attend calls after they worked their 10 hours.

The municipality also backed down because it had a high vacancy rate within its trade services units and therefore needed the workers to work longer hours to ensure there was service delivery. The vacancy rate was estimated at about 40%.

South African Municipal Workers Union secretary in uMgungundlovu, Linda Gcabashe, said the municipality had to address the issue of vacancies before it could limit overtime hours.

“The City had tried to implement this proposal that limits the overtime hours and it did not work, and service delivery was affected. Workers would not go out to calls because they had reached the limit to the amount of overtime they are allowed,” he said.

“The municipal manager, Madoda Khathide, has since written a circular stating that following discussions on the matter, he was going back to the original position that the workers can work for 40 hours a month. The first issue that the municipality needs to address is to employ new workers,” Gcabashe said.

“We cannot fight the employer for overtime as that is the prerogative of the employer. What we can say is that if we are needed to work 100 hours, we will do it.”

The issue of overtime has been a thorn in the side of the municipality. Mayor Mzimkhulu Thebolla said there was a need to control it because in some instances it was being abused.

A report tabled to council recently detailed the extent of the problem. It found that in just the first four months of the 2020-21 financial year, more than half of the overtime budget has been exhausted.

This financial year, the municipality had budgeted about R45 million for overtime but had already spent R32m of that money with eight months still to go.

It said in the 2019/20 financial year, the municipality had budgeted R91m for overtime but spent R97m, which was an overspend of R6m.

“The overtime budget of the 2020/21 financial year is R45m. However, as of October 2020, about R32m (72%) has been spent.

“Since 72% of the budget has already been spent as at the end of October, this leaves R12.6m for the remaining eight months.”

About R10m of the overtime bill was spent during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said Khathide would be engaging with workers in different units about the issue.

“What we can say is that Human Resources is currently engaged in a process to fill the vacancies as a matter of priority.

“They will ensure that people are not overworked and limit the need for overtime.”

Mercury

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