Gauteng council denies hostage situation‚ but confirms late-night meeting over salary woes

The cash-strapped West Rand District Municipality on Wednesday confirmed it was locked in late-night meetings over the non-payment of salaries
The cash-strapped West Rand District Municipality on Wednesday confirmed it was locked in late-night meetings over the non-payment of salaries

The West Rand District Municipality has denied reports that officials were being held hostage on Wednesday by workers over non-payment of salaries.

Instead‚ the municipality’s leadership said that worker representatives and senior municipal officials were sitting behind chamber doors discussing workers’ salaries.

"We are still in council chambers. Discussions are ongoing‚" municipal manager David Mokoena told this publication shortly before 9pm Wednesday.

Mokoena said that mayor Boyce Maneli was present at the meeting‚ along with workers. He denied claims that there was protest action outside.

The Gauteng municipality has ran short of funds after they controversially invested R77m in the troubled VBS Mutual Bank.

Times Select reported earlier this week that the mayor‚ councillors‚ executives‚ managers and supervisors at the Randfontein-based district council‚ west of Johannesburg‚ were among those who did not get their salaries last week Thursday.

Municipal workers said that only workers on lower salary scales had received their salaries.

An internal memorandum sent out to workers said: “The municipality‚ having done all that was required of it to secure the release of funds‚ has not to date received the promised funds. As a result‚ the municipality will be unable to meet the full commitment on salaries for all employees."

The memorandum was dated October 25.

"We have carefully considered the funds in hand and will be processing payment of salaries for all employees from level 15 to level 7. These salaries will be paid by 25 October 2018. All other employees will hopefully be paid by no later than 30 October 2018. We still do believe that the assistance envisaged from our stakeholders will be granted and the situation with the financial situation of the municipality will be stabilised soon‚" it read.

The South African Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) president Pule Molalenyane said they expected the municipality to honour their contractual obligation to the workers – and this so that “the community who are paying for services are able then to receive quality services from the workers”.

Molalenyane said the Basic Conditions of the Employments Act was clear that workers had to be paid for the work they had done.

"You find that municipalities are not doing what they are expected to do. It is pure corruption what is happening there [West Rand District Municipality] and we condemn it in the strongest form‚" he said.

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