Pretoria - A staggering R500million - that’s the combined estimated amount of money likely to be paid out to more than 20000 City of Tshwane workers as a festive gift next month.
Thousands of workers yesterday greeted with resounding applause the news that they would be paid out lump sums yet again by the end of the year.
The windfall will follow the initial R318m the City paid its workforce “out of its own discretion and to apologise” to them after they went on strike for a week in July.
Although the cost of payments to the City was not divulged to workers, the Pretoria News was told that during the negotiations, the figure bandied about was in the region of R500m.
Workers affiliated to the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) and Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) reconvened outside Tshwane House yesterday following the stalemate with the City on Monday.
They went on the rampage, emptying rubbish bins in the inner city while they waited for feedback from their representatives who were engaged in further talks with the City to break the deadlock.
Traffic came to a standstill as some workers barricaded street intersections, using municipal trucks and other vehicles. Others set alight the rubbish in the middle of the roads, forcing motorists to look for alternative routes. Stones were thrown at the windows of the Pretoria News offices by demonstrators.
At stake during the negotiations was the disagreement between the parties on the implementation plan of salary increases.
The unions demanded that the metro paid them lump sums backdated to July 2017. On the other hand, the City wanted to effect payments from July 2018.
According to the unions, the payouts had to be be in line with the date on which the municipality was accorded a Category 10 status from 9 by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in 2017.
They argued that when the metro received a new ranking the salaries of workers were not adjusted accordingly.
In July, parties had agreed to embark on a 60-day benchmarking exercise through which the City compared salaries of their employees with those of their counterparts in other metros.
In September a benchmarking report was tabled in council, but its findings were yet to be implemented.
Samwu regional secretary Mpho Tladinyane said: “We are now outside the 60-day period. The negotiations were started on Monday and we agreed on adjusting the salary scales.”
He said the agreement included once-off payouts to employees, which should be calculated according to their new salary scale backdated to July, 2017.
“The employer wanted to implement them from July this year, but we were able to push to July, 2017. That has always been the mandate of the workers - July 1, 2017 - to make sure there is consistency. Remember that senior managers were paid from July 1, 2017. So everybody must be paid from that particular period,” he said.
Tladinyane said it was agreed that the employer should immediately start to migrate workers into new salary structure “and immediately after finalising that particular process people must be paid within five to seven days”.
“We said the mandate from our members was that they should be paid by the end of December 2019. Those who will be outstanding must then be paid before the end of January,” he said.
He declined to be drawn into the collective amount it would cost the City to pay workers lump sums.
“What they paid to the city manager and to those senior managers was actually R100m. Sometimes we will find out that what they are giving us could be around R200m or R300m. Sometimes they were speaking about R500m, but you will have to speak to the employer to get the correct figures.”
Parties would on Monday head to the bargaining council in Centurion to formalise their deal.
Executive Mayor Stevens Mokgalapa said the crux of the benchmarking exercise was “a long delayed process of rationalising the remuneration regime of the City since the merger of municipalities since 2011”.
He said the finalisation of the process was made considering the financial position and stability of the City. He apologised to residents for mayhem caused by demonstrators.