Municipal workers should be paid their salaries on time, Samwu

Samwu boss Koena Ramotlou is accusing President Cyril Ramaphosa of failing municipalities by not prioritising them in his state of the nation address.
Samwu boss Koena Ramotlou is accusing President Cyril Ramaphosa of failing municipalities by not prioritising them in his state of the nation address.

The SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) on Wednesday accused municipalities of cheating workers out of their hard-earned money.

This follows the failure to pay workers their full salaries and on time in several municipalities. Samwu has also called for immediate payments, in full - and called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that municipalities are given a bigger chunk of the budget. 

"Samwu ... demands the immediate payment of all salaries of municipal workers that have not been paid yet. When workers go on strike, municipalities apply the no-work, no-pay principle. As a result workers are determined to apply the no-pay, no-work principle until such a time that their salaries reflects in their bank account," said Koena Ramotlou, general secretary of the union.

The union said the lack of payments contributed negatively to the lives of workers, as they incurred unnecessary arrears.

"This, while third parties such as medical aid, funeral policies and pension funds are in arrears. Essentially, municipalities are cheating workers out of their hard-earned money, which is, by the way, too little to sustain their lives," said Ramatlou.

The union said there were more than 30 municipalities in the country which indicated that they would not be able to honour their contractual obligations with workers by paying them on the 25th of the month.

Other municipalities said they would be paying only a portion of workers' salaries.

Ramotlou said it was disturbing that workers at the Amahlathi local municipality had been informed by municipal management that they would not be getting salaries for June, and should expect to be paid only at the end of July.

"These are the very same workers who will go for two months working and be expected by the employer to continue going to work without receiving salaries," he said.

The union said it had hoped that Ramaphosa - in his state of the nation address - would have prioritised municipalities and ensured they received a fairer deal.

"The president has, however, been complicit in failing municipalities. We reiterate our call that municipalities should be given a greater preference when the 2019-2020 budget is presented. After all, municipalities are in the coalface of service delivery.

"It can't be correct that municipalities are expected to deliver services to almost 60-million [people] on 9% of government expenditure," said Ramatlou.

Samwu said it was agitated at municipalities because of what occurred at a meeting held with co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and deputy minister Parks Tau, along with senior officials from the department. 

Ramotlou said that concerns at the failure of municipalities to pay salaries on time and in full were raised but he was shocked to hear Cogta's response that they were not aware of the situation.

Ramotlou said workers viewed the lack of payments as "a deliberate and provoked attack" and workers would respond appropriately by withdrawing their labour to ensure that their families were fed and their financial obligations met.

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