Simon Nare and Sibongile Mashaba
Ekurhuleni municipality has hit its employees who don't pay rates and taxes hard in the pocket.
It has deducted money from their salaries and most of them have been left penniless for this month.
And now the South African Municipal Workers Union is up in arms and has threatened to approach the courts to get the deductions reversed.
Samwu branch secretary Koena Ramotlou described the municipality's move as unlawful.
"This is not allowed by the law. The Municipal System Act states that the municipality may do that, but there should be an arrangement before they deduct money," said Ramotlou.
He said the union was yesterday consulting with its lawyers with the view to launch an urgent interdict.
Most employees, he said, were left without any money in their bank accounts after the deductions.
These were low paid workers such as cleaners and other general workers.
He said the council inspected the billing system to check how much employees owed in rates and taxes.
Some of the employees had already made arrangements to pay off their arrears, but the council reneged and deducted money anyway.
One employee told Sowetan that she owed the council R25000 in rates and taxes.
She earns a paltry R3700 a month and this month she had R3000 deducted from her salary and is left with only R700. She spends R400 on transport.
"How am I supposed to survive on R300? I still have to pay school fees for my children," said the mother of four.
Council spokesman Zweli Dlamini said they have learnt about the plight of the workers through the media.
He said if the union felt the council had broken the law, then it should follow correct channels.
He added that the council would investigate the matter.