Robben Island Museum staff facing possible 50% salary cuts ’being punished for mismanagement’
Cape Town – The under-fire Robben Island Museum (RIM) is considering various business rationalisation options, which include cutting staff salaries by 50%.
Some RIM employees, however, feel they are being ‘’punished for mismanagement that cost the company millions’’, a staff member, who did not want to be identified for fear of victimisation, told IOL on Tuesday.
RIM said in a statement it is planning to restructure its operations from June in order to remain sustainable in the short term.
This while an independent investigation into allegations of mismanagement – made by the Ex-Political Prisoners' Association in 2018 – revealed at the beginning of last month there was a prima facie case for disciplinary steps to be taken.
"The recommendations are still to be implemented, so at this point in time we can confirm that the investigation revealed evidence which sustains a prima facie case for disciplinary steps in relation to one of the allegations," RIM council chairperson Khensani Maluleke said at the time.
RIM did not respond to a request for comment on whether any action has been taken so far.
Nor did it indicate whether it has proceeded to challenge – as stated last November – the 2019/20 audit finding by late Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, who found RIM did not disclose R90.4 million in irregular expenditure for purchasing a vessel, MV Krotoa. Maluleka was displeased that the museum had obtained a qualified audit opinion for the first time after 10 years of unqualified audits.
RIM’s statement today read: ’’The prolonged economic onslaught of Covid-19 has pushed the organisation into crisis mode financially, and the RIM management is now considering various business rationalisation options, with effect from June this year until such time that there is a resumption of normal business at the museum.
‘’This includes cutting staff salaries by 50% with equally reduced working hours across the board and/or invoke section 189 of the labour relations act.
‘’The RIM employees have all been informed of the situation and through a process of internal engagement, options are being discussed, to mitigate the financial impact on the staff. We appeal to members of the media to respect this internal process and shall be kept updated as the progress of this process unfolds.’’
An aggrieved staff member said: ‘’The company said it is experiencing a deficit of R49 million and they are predicting that by June it’s going to be R58 million.
‘’Employees told them at a meeting last week that there has to be a consultation process whereby they need to be transparent about what happened to the money and what is going on with the report (into mismanagement). We believe the chairperson of the council, Mr Khensani, is taking his time in addressing the issue.
‘’We were under the impression that the guys would be suspended by now so that they don’t interfere with the processes that have been followed by HR or the executive. Normally, at Robben Island, if you are found guilty you are suspended.
‘’So they are still there and they are aware their contracts will expire in June this year. Now they want to impose 50% salary cuts knowing very well that at that time they will be gone.
‘’So this is their way of correcting their mismanagement mistakes, because Auditor-General Makwetu raised issues about the procurement of the Krotoa being riddled with many flaws and that the R100 million tender needs to be investigated.
’’Two reports are implicating them in mismanagement, but they are still there while workers fear for their future.’’