Council pays for unused system

File photo: Damaris Helwig

File photo: Damaris Helwig

Published Jan 31, 2013


Durban - The costs are mounting, yet an electronic time management system installed to provide efficiency and control in the Hibiscus Coast municipality, almost three years ago, has still not been used.

The biometric system which reads the fingerprints of workers to record what time they start and finish, was supposed to replace the current manual attendance register.

However, a dispute between the municipality’s management and the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) means that even though the system is being paid for, the municipality has not benefited.

A document in possession of The Mercury shows that the cost to the municipality from mid-2011 to mid-2012 was close to R700 000 and insiders say it is edging closer to R1 million. In the meantime it has been vandalised and this week the service provider was called in to repair it.

Municipal spokesman Simon Soboyiso said the council agreed on the system with the aim of adapting to new technology while simultaneously maximising productivity.

Before they could go ahead, the unions, and Samwu in particular, complained that they had not been adequately consulted. However, because they had a contract in place, the municipality had to continue paying the service provider, said Soboyiso.

The monthly cost is close to R22 500 for three years from August 2010.

He said when the implementation was stopped, the council asked the service provider to “park” the monthly payments until it was used with the promise that the full duration of the agreement would be considered. However, the service provider did not agree.

“This meant the municipality had to continue paying as per the agreement,” he said.

Musa Nzelemu, Samwu chairman on the Hibiscus Coast, said the matter was sub judice because it was before the Labour Court and that they would abide by any outcome.

Nzelemu said the chief concern was that there would be job losses because the system could take over the role of supervisors. He also questioned why workers who were based and worked in outlying areas had to travel to the council offices in Port Shepstone to clock in and clock out, before and after work, as this would lead to greater costs and time wastage for either them or the municipality. The DA’s exco councillor, Dave Watson, said not implementing the system was a huge waste of public money.

He said there was proof that the unions had been consulted adequately. Manual records would be kept of those workers who did not report to a depot.

It was simple, he said.

“If you are not logged on to the system, you won’t be paid.”

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