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By Moneyweb

Moneyweb: Journalists


Here’s how much City of Tshwane’s striking workers get paid

The salaries Tshwane pays its staff far exceed salaries in the private sector.


Members of the municipal union Samwu in Tshwane, who have been protesting a council decision not to grant them any salary increase this year, earn more than the vast majority of adults in Gauteng, according to Unisa’s Bureau of Market Research (BMR).

Nevertheless, they are demanding the 4.5% increase due to all municipal workers in terms of a sector collective agreement.

The city has however not budgeted for the R600 million required for such an increase and has applied for exemption from the agreement based on its dire financial situation.

The clash between employer and employee has seriously impacted service delivery in the capital and more than 90 workers have already been fired for participating in the unprotected strike, but the end does not seem to be near.

ALSO READ: City of Tshwane fires over 90 employees involved in strike

According to Mayor Cilliers Brink, Tshwane’s budget for the year is underfunded to the tune of R3 billion. It is however accompanied by a funding plan which includes a 0% salary increase for staff.

“Even the ANC supported the budget. Nothing is going to change now. We are not going to get the money from anywhere suddenly,” says Brink.

Tshwane has been in arrears with bulk suppliers Eskom and Rand Water for some time and has embarked on strict collections drives and disconnecting services to non-paying businesses and households to improve its financial affairs.

Experts, however, point out that the salaries Tshwane pays its staff far exceed salaries in the private sector.

Asked for detail about what officials earn, the city administration responded as follows: “We have 23 salary bands from T1 to T23. Our salary scales start from the lowest level of R143 580,00 to highest level of R1 947 660,00 per annum.”

That translates to R11 965 per month for the lowest level, and R162 305 for the best-paid official.

Moneyweb however searched further and learnt:

  • These salaries do not include the 13th cheque paid in December;
  • They do not include benefits like pension contributions by the employer; and
  • Officials such as the municipal manager, chief financial officer and chief of the metro police are not included in these salary bands – they are appointed on contract and earn even more.

Employees within the T1 salary band, those with the smallest salaries, get a minimum of R11 965 per month, but this may increase to R13 984. This includes general workers and kitchen attendants.

This does not include an artisan assistant, assistant operator, chain saw operator, coal truck checker or crematorium operator, who are in the next salary bracket, earning up to R15 024 per month, plus the 13th cheque and benefits.

Perspective

According to the BMR, 76% of adults in Gauteng earn less than R7 400 per month.

Gerhard Papenfus, CEO of the employers’ organisation Neasa, says these salaries far exceed remuneration in the private sector even though productivity in the municipality is much lower.

“Many businesses battle to pay minimum wages of around R5 000 per month for general workers. Those who are experienced can earn up to R8 000.”

These same businesses now must dig into their pockets for the inflated salaries municipal staff earn.

Big numbers …

Moneyweb has established that the city’s administrative officers, bus drivers, cashiers, gardeners, handymen and receptionists earn between R19 000 and R26 500 per month, an electrician (artisan) and call centre operator between R26 000 and R37 000 per month and an executive secretary between R30 000 and R42 000 per month.

Papenfus says a well-trained call centre operator in the private sector will be lucky to earn R15 000 per month.

He adds that the amount paid to bus drivers and cashiers exceeds what a young, qualified attorney earns when first appointed in a law practice.

ALSO READ: City of Tshwane gets interdict against striking Samwu workers

He says businesses must stick to what they can afford to pay staff. In the public sector unions put pressure on the employer and use violence as a negotiating tool. Year after year they get away with it, but at some point, there is simply no more money. That is what happened in Tshwane, and somebody had to put their foot down.

“I respect the mayor for taking a stand,” he says.

Dirty, dark, dire

Tshwane residents have been suffering service delivery disruptions with delayed refuse removal and long lead times to fix electricity and water supply problems.

On Friday the refuse was piling up on sidewalks in Moreletta Park in the east of the city.

On Friday night a councillor forwarded a message from the regional executive director to residents who had been in the dark since the Mooikloof substation tripped the previous day: “The situation has unfortunately not changed; we don’t have teams working at this point.”

Brink says there was huge disruption in Tshwane last week. In Centurion, where all the electricity teams went on strike, as well as Pretoria North and Mamelodi, residents suffered long power outages due to workers striking and the intimidation of those who did pitch up.

He says there seems to be a concerted effort to make the city centre look dirty, and in Soshanguve a valve in the water system was deliberately closed to sabotage supply.

Nevertheless, the city is not on its knees, he says.

ALSO READ: Tshwane in turmoil: Protesters clash with mayor as services grind to halt

Member of the mayoral committee for finance Peter Sutton warned staff on 24 July that the rule of no work, no pay would apply and the city obtained an interdict against the strike, the destruction of property, and the intimidation of other workers.

Brink warns that should the strike intensify and affect the city’s revenue collections, the administration’s ability to pay workers their 13th cheques in December will be at risk.

After that, the only option will be lay-offs in terms of labour law.

Non-striking employee intimidated, shot, hijacked

The city issued a statement on Sunday (13 August) condemning the attack and hijacking of an employee on Saturday night, saying the “unlawful and unprotected strike” by employees affiliated to Samwu “has degenerated into thuggery and wanton criminality”.

“A standby team from the Water and Sanitation Section was working in Montana … when they were confronted by a group of men who intimidated and instructed them to stop working. The team ignored them and continued to render a service.

“On completion of the shift, while on his way home, the standby team leader was shot and highjacked. He was rushed to hospital.”

City Manager Johann Mettler described the incident as “deplorable”.

“If they are found to be our employees they will be booted out of the employ of the city.”

This article is republished from Moneyweb with permission. Read the original article here.

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