File picture: ROBERT BOTHA.
File picture: ROBERT BOTHA.

The City of Tshwane administrators, who were appointed by the Gauteng provincial government in March after the metro was left leaderless because of political infighting, have bowed to pressure from workers to increase their salaries by 6.25%.

Implementing the 6.25% wage deal increases the city’s wage bill by R45m every month, said head administrator Mpho Nawa. He said the wage increase, which forms part of the last leg of a three-year wage agreement signed at the SA Local Government Bargaining Council in 2018, will be paid to workers from Friday. The wage increase was due to be implemented on July 1, according to the agreement.

Speaking to Business Day on Friday, Nawa said increasing the salaries will have huge financial implications for the metro, whose revenue collection has been negatively affected by the strict national lockdown implemented by the government to help contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Most businesses were forced to shut down during the lockdown, and some have failed to reopen.

“The city is broke because revenue has declined. They are fortunate they still have jobs. Covid-19 is not only a national problem, but a global pandemic. I don’t understand why they can’t see the city is facing challenges,” Nawa said.

The administrators and the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu), which represents the bulk of the workers in the metro, are still to reach an agreement on the benchmarking of salaries in Tshwane with those of their counterparts in other metros.

“They entered into this benchmarking agreement with the previous administration, but it has a devastating effect on the finances of the city. It would cost us [a further] R300m to implement it. Labour must be sensitive to the effects to Covid-19,” said Nawa.

He said every cent needed to be channelled towards providing efficient service delivery to the metro’s residents.

The administrators’ stance against implementing the salary increases was seen as linked to the government’s decision to cut the public-sector wage bill by more than R160bn over the next three years — a decision described by unions as a “declaration of war”.

The subsequent resolution by the government to not implement a standing wage agreement for public servants in April is now subject to both court and arbitration proceedings.

Samwu had given the administrators until Friday to effect the increases. A disgruntled group of Samwu members embarked on a wildcat strike on Tuesday, trashing the City of Tshwane’s head offices, Tshwane House and leading to the metro suspending all bus services on Wednesday.

Samwu Tshwane regional chair Nkhetheni Muthavhi took issue with the nonimplementation of the benchmarking agreement, saying: “When the metro was upgraded from a category 9 to 10 municipality in 2017, we embarked on a benchmarking exercise in all the metros across the country and found that Tshwane employees were the least paid of all the other metros.”

“We are going to write to the bargaining council to apply for enforcement of this benchmarking agreement by the metro, because we want this issue resolved speedily,” said Muthavhi.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za

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