Municipality’s ‘pilot’ project for overtime not council-approved

In October 2014 community services employees staged a protest over, among other things, what they considered their due in overtime payment.

MBOMBELA – DA whip in council, Ms Sanley van der Merwe, has called for the immediate termination of said project and an independent forensic investigation into the past 10 years of overtime claims.

In a recent council meeting, Van der Merwe queried why only the indigent, and subsistence and travelling policies were rationalised and approved.

Also read: Limits on overtime pay kicks in at municipality

Executive mayor, Cllr Sibusiso Mathonsi said the overtime policy would be presented in a separate report as the process to finalise it was ongoing.

In June 2015 an overtime policy document was approved and adopted by council which was aimed at reducing spending by restricting non-critical approval of overtime.

In other words, overtime payment was reserved for “emergency work” and only staff earning an annual salary not exceeding the threshold set by the minister of labour qualified for remuneration.

In 2014, some municipal workers from traffic, firefighting, security and disaster management parked their vehicles in front of the civic centre, keeping motorists trapped inside. They told Lowvelder that they had various grievances which had gone unaddressed, including outstanding overtime for firefighters.

Lowvelder is in possession of a draft overtime-management collective agreement which sets out proposed amendments to the approved 2015 overtime policy.

Under the “Payment of Allowances” section, it is proposed that employees working overtime will receive 40 per cent of their monthly pensionable salary and that employees earning above the ministerial determination threshold will be paid a special allowance of 40 per cent for their overtime work performed from “time to time”. Waste removal workers would also receive a special allowance of 50 per cent.

Municipal manager, Mr Noko Seanego confirmed to Van der Merwe in a letter in January that part of this draft agreement was being implemented as a “pilot” project affecting 65 employees in various departments. He said the strategy was drafted to deal with excessive overtime payment to employees and to deal with staff who were earning above the determined threshold.

Seanego added that the delay in finalisation was caused by the consultative process with departments such as waste management, parks and water.

Also WATCH: Protesters trash Mbombela CBD

Van der Merwe said the issue of overtime had been minuted in council several times over the past two years and members of the executive had promised to provide feedback.

“Why has it not been brought to council still today? Information is being withheld. We want to know where the money is going and from which pool it is being taken from?” she said.

Municipal spokesman, Mr Joseph Ngala failed to respond to the newspaper’s media query sent on April 7 about the “pilot” project or its request for council’s current overtime policy.

Philippa Francis

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