Striking municipal workers blockaded the streets of Durban with their trucks, demanding a grade increase. Picture: Bongani Mbatha / Africa News Agency (ANA)

Durban - The Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday called for full public disclosure of records documenting the appointments and salary increases of new employees in eThekwini Metro's Durban Solid Waste department.

This as thousands of eThekwini Municipality workers are on strike since last week protesting the city's alleged unilateral salary increase given to about 55 recently employed uMkhonto WeSizwe military veterans in the waste division, while rank and file staff stayed at the same salary grade.

The striking workers are upset over increases given to the veterans from grade 4 to grade 10 pay grades, which took their salaries from R9 000 to R20 000 a month, and now demand the same increases. 

The strike by workers from the Water and Sanitation Unit, including Durban Solid Waste (DSW), has led to water being cut off for days in certain areas, with the city labeling the move "sabotage".

At least 31 protesters were arrested and 18 trucks impounded on Thursday after dozens of municipal trucks blocked entrances to the city centre, with rubbish dumped from tipper trucks and set alight, as striking workers settled near City Hall

Outa KZN provincial manager, Tim Tyrrell, said it was imperative for the city to come clean on the appointment process in the interests of transparency and to get to the nub of the strike action.

"This issue needs to be seriously investigated. The city is trying to pass a R50.8-billion consolidated budget - an 11 percent increase on 2018/19 – which is coming out of the pockets of already over-stretched city residents," Tyrell said in a statement. 

"One of the most effective measures to curb rampant rates increases is by managing employment costs. If this process is compromised, as is being alleged by municipal unions, it raises serious questions over the city's ability to manage and set budgets."

Earlier in the day, ANC KZN provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said it would be impossible to promote all municipal employees to the Grade 10 salaries, adding that this would cost the municipality around R2.7 billion which it cannot afford.

According to the city's 2018/19 adjusted budget, employee-related costs account for 29.89 percent of total revenue, excluding capital transfers and contributions.

Tyrell said there are 3 737 vacancies that need to be filled, according to the City's final draft Integrated Development Plan out for public comment, which will no doubt have an impact on budgets going forward.

"It is being alleged that the city circumvented its own recruitment process to fast-track the appointment of selected groups," he said.

"The city must make a full disclosure of the facts surrounding this issue which has led to reports of water infrastructure being sabotaged, freeways being blocked, the CBD being turned into a no-go zone, waste collection coming to a standstill and businesses and residents being severely affected."

African News Agency (ANA)