The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Hon. Des Van Rooyen,‘s current determination on the upper limits places Rustenburg on Grade 6. It seems it is this determination which is at the centre of the brewing conflict between the municipality and SAMWU. It has come to the attention of both the political leadership and management that these employees are planning to embark on a widespread illegal industrial action starting from tomorrow, 17th October 2017. This is in spite of all sorts of interventions and engagement of all affected parties on this matter.
In a meeting between the municipality’s TROIKA (Executive Mayor, Speaker of Council and Single Whip of Council), management and SAMWU local leadership, on 13th October 2017, details of the adverse financial implication of a demand to move employee related costs to Grade 6 were tabled. In view of the above, Council had resolved that the adverse financial implication of this move would place the municipality under strain and affect service delivery to residents, thus resolved that the municipality would remain at Grade 5. This decision is underpinned by acting in the interest of residents. It remains our view that this current impasse can only be resolved through sober dialogue of all parties involved.
Both these decisions have not been well received by disgruntled employees demanding a higher pay Grade.
The impact of a move from Grade 5 to Grade 6 can be summarised as follows:
- An additional funding of R240,8 million, in employee costs, during the current financial year (2017/2018) would need to be sourced from an already stretched budget aimed at service delivery.
- Putting in abeyance critical funding requirements for capital infrastructure upgrades required for Electricity, Water and Sanitation projects to the value of R1.2 billion over the 2017/2018 MTREF.
Rendering the municipality unable to honor payments due to Creditors for goods and services to the municipality to the value of R120 million which would have an adverse impact the local economic climate that is already under strain.
- Rendering the municipality unable to undertake essential preventative repairs and maintenance on aging infrastructure and municipal owned.
- The total R1.5bn deficit that is the cost of the decision to move to Grade 6 at this particular point in time.
Implications for residents
- The municipality would have to increase tariffs in order to fund the deficit of R1.5bn which would place pressure on already burdened residents.
- The municipality would have to compromise on both quality and quantity on basic services required by residents, namely, purchasing bulk clean water and electricity, sanitation and waste removal.
- The anticipated illegal strike would also result in a risk of disruption of services to residents.
Implications for employees
- The principle of “no work no pay” will apply. This means striking employees will get no salaries at the end of the month.
- Consequence management principle will apply, as all employees embarking on an unprotected, illegal strike will be taken through a formal disciplinary procedure, with the ultimate resultant of dismissal.
It is against this background that both the municipality’s political leadership and management are in absolute disagreement with the implementation of the move to Grade 6 given the adverse impact it would have on the residents. Ultimately Administration is central in the sound financial management of public funds and such a decision would not be in line with that.
“We want to issue a strong warning to any employee who in the process of illegal strike damages or tempers with the municipality’s assets, such as water reservoirs, electricity sub-stations and buildings that the full might of the law shall apply. They will be arrested and be criminally charged, as this is tantamount to sabotage. We have made the necessary arrangements with our Public Safety Law Enforcement, South African Police (SAPS) and external legal experts, thus ensuring that there are no acts of intimidation and threats to employees who are willing to serve our residents. We will protect service delivery at all costs. Our own interpretation of the intended actions by SAMWU is to collapse provision of services. It is further our intention to interact with residents in the next few days, to fully explain the seriousness of the situation”, said Executive Mayor, Cllr Mpho Khunou, in a statement.