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Thousands of eThekwini workers claiming overtime

A report from the lekgotla shows that the municipality is making changes to its operations as it looks to contain its ballooning overtime cost. Part of the changes will include centralising the approval of overtime to the office of the city manager.

Metro police in the Durban CBD. The metro police and the security clusters have been among the units that have raised eyebrows about overtime pay due to the amounts they have claimed. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency(ANA)

Published Apr 29, 2022

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DURBAN - MORE than half of the eThekwini Municipality’s 28 000-strong workforce is allegedly claiming monthly overtime pay.

The stunning figure was first revealed to councillors who sit in the executive committee in a mayoral lekgotla recently. It was again reiterated by DA councillor Nicole Graham in a statement yesterday.

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Opposition parties said they were informed by the municipality’s chief financial officer, Sandile Mnguni, that 15 000 workers were claiming overtime pay.

He was speaking on the need to reduce overtime. It was not immediately clear over what period this occurred or at what cost to the municipality.

But the city has repeatedly been warned over the exorbitant overtime claims. The metro police and the security clusters have been among those units that have raised eyebrows about overtime pay due to the amounts they have claimed.

A report from the lekgotla shows that the municipality is making changes to its operations as it looks to contain its ballooning overtime cost. Part of the changes will include centralising the approval of overtime to the office of the city manager.

The lekgotla was meant to analyse the state of the municipality, its challenges and the way forward.

The revelations come as mayor Mxolisi Kaunda revealed recently that performance contracts would now be signed by all staff members, and not just senior management.

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He said that while the municipality had 28 000 employees, this figure was not reflected on the ground when it came to service delivery.

Speaking on the matter, Graham said: “The DA is deeply concerned about the findings relating to the municipality’s 28 000 staff members. This is all the more relevant considering the collapse of management and municipal systems during the recent floods.

“While some municipal staff have done excellent work during this time, many went to ground and couldn’t be found to do basic tasks. Fifteen thousand employees – more than half of the municipality's workforce – are claiming overtime on a monthly basis,” she said.

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“EThekwini will spend a whopping R12.6 billion in the upcoming budget on employee-related costs. This undoubtedly includes perks and bonuses, despite the collapse of service delivery in eThekwini. No organisation in the world can afford to operate like this and survive,” she said.

Graham said the DA had been adamant that the municipality could not pay performance bonuses while the city was an absolute mess.

“The city’s leadership and management must take back that control to hold people accountable, cut unreasonable staff costs and ensure that municipal employees are serving the communities. eThekwini’s survival depends on it,” she said.

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IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said: “We need to ensure that we decrease the number and the amount of those people who are claiming overtime. The city does not have enough money because of Covid-19, we can’t collect as we normally do, and it’s not acceptable that there are people who are claiming a lot of money.”

Nkosi added that some VIP protectors were complaining as they could no longer claim overtime.

“And there are changes in the department as to how they are going to work the shifts.”

Nkosi said the situation could not be allowed to continue as it would bankrupt the municipality.

“I am hoping that this will come to an end.”

Approached for comment yesterday, Mnguni said: “I will not confirm whether that information is true or not because discussions at the lekgotla are not public.”

He directed The Mercury to municipal spokesperson, Msawakhe Mayisela, who challenged the figure of 15 000, saying it was exaggerated.

“We should not create an impression that seeks to say the municipality is a free-for-all corrupt entity.

“This is a big organisation that is charged with discharging a number of responsibilities, and there are occasions where we have to grant overtime. And when we grant it, it is in the interest of the public so that services are not disrupted,” he said.

The lekgotla report tabled before full council yesterday addressed the issue of overtime, and a moratorium on filling vacant posts, but did not give statistics.

It said that in line with the resolution on improving staff productivity, and addressing an audit query on overtime, it resolved that all overtime applications be approved by the city manager, and that overtime procedures and delegations be reviewed.

Addressing the issue of a moratorium on vacancies, it said the filling of vacancies would henceforth be approved by the city manager.

Speaking on the organisational structure, it said staff costs remained one of the top cost drivers in the municipality. It said that in view of numerous issues raised on the low productivity of employees and other staffing matters, the lekgotla resolved on the necessity to review the current institutional structure.

“In accordance with the adopted municipal staff regulations, the current institutional structure will be duly reviewed in line with the legal prescripts and requirements,” it said.

ANC councillor Nkosenhle Madlala called for the report to be deferred to give other parties’ caucuses an opportunity to properly review it.

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