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SAMWU to Challenge Retrenchments at Inkosi Langalibalele Local Municipality in KZN

13 November 2018 / Press Statement

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMU) has received a Section 189A notice from the Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality (ILM). The ILM was established in 2016 following the merger between the Imbabazane and uMtshezi Local Municipalities, it covers towns such Estcourt, Weenen in the KZN Midland District.

The Municipality has informed unions and workers of its intentions to retrench 41% of the workforce effective end of January 2019. It is very sickening that the employer has made their intentions known jut a few weeks after the conclusion of the Presidential Jobs Summit where a commitment was signed that there would be a moratorium on retrenchments.  

In its application to the CCMA, the municipality claims that it is in a dire financial state which necessitates for the reduction of costs to reestablish service delivery. The municipality further claims that its liquidity challenges are as a result of salary disparities which increased its wage bill after correction.

This however is not true because the decision to merge the Imbabazane and uMtshenzi local municipalities was ill-conceived and done in haste without the consultation of workers. This resulted in workers in the new municipality receiving different salaries for doing the same job.

SAMWU is convinced that the KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) has deliberately allowed the Inkosi Langalibalele Local Municipality to fail. The municipality had been placed under administration by the Department but instead of turning it around, it is now being run aground.

It was KZN COGTA which instructed the municipality to reverse salary increments given to workers in addressing the salary disparities and recoup this money from workers. The Department should have known that there was no way that this would happen as it would be illegal in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

On top of this, there are two legal opinion from both the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the municipality which agreed on the absorption of workers and their new salaries. It therefore does not make sense to us for COGTA to instruct their municipal administrator to reverse absorption of workers who were on contact at the municipality for more than 10 years and that the salaries which they received should be recouped from workers.

In the interest of service delivery to the people of Estcourt and Weenen, the Inkosi Langalibalele Local Municipality cannot be allowed to totally collapse. We therefore call on Minister Zweli Mkhize to send a team to the municipality to salvage whatever that is left of the municipality before it is too late.

Despite that fact that the municipality claims to be in dire financial pressure, it still has a security contract worth R2.3 million in place while millions more are wasted as a result of outsourcing. SAMWU is of the view that the municipality can be salvaged if all outsourcing contracts including security were terminated with all these services being done in house by municipal workers.

Recently Statistics South Africa reveled that unemployment in the country has grown to 27.2% while unemployment in the Midland District is among the highest in the country. We will not stand idle when municipal workers are relegated to poverty, starvation and hunger.

We will therefore be challenging the attempts by the municipality to retrench these worker, SAMWU is their last line of defense. Community members should also take a stand against this decision as it will not only affect service delivery in their municipality but also increase the levels of unemployment in the community. We remain convinced that the municipality and these jobs can be saved.

Issued by SAMWU KZN  

Jaycee Ncanana 
SAMWU Provincial Secretary
072 350 5060