Ricochet News

Victory for workers as Metro removes hurdle to millions owed to them in back-pay

By Afikile Lugunya - Jul 13, 2018
Victory for workers as Metro removes hurdle to millions owed to them in back-pay

It's a victory for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality workers aligned with the South African Municipal Workers' Union (SAMWU) and the Independent Municipal & Allied Trade Union (IMATU) after Councillors unanimously reversed a previous decision that affected the payment of their back-pay on Friday.

The back-pay is regards to long service bonuses that were due to the workers and saw the workers downing tools last month in a protracted strike that brought the Metro to a standstill before a deal to the millions owed to the workers was struck at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Employees who qualify for the long service back-pay will be paid as follows:

  • 12-17 years will get R10 000,
  • 18-23 years will get R16 000, and
  • 24 years will get R21 000.

Councillors heard that the municipality has to pay an amount of R44 942 000 to 2485 employees in the 2018/19 budget, which was never budgeted for.

According to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Municipal Manager, Johann Mettler, R200 million has been projected without taking into account the R44.9 million that is required to settle the agreement with the workers.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Executive Mayor, Athol Trollip, said: "I believe that the agreement is based on good faith and commitment shown by this institution to find an un-budgeted solution for an un-budgeted expenditure item.”

He added that the irregular expenditure will be regulated because the municipality has to pay.

Meanwhile, former Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Deputy Executive Mayor and the United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) Regional Chairperson, Mongameli Bobani, said that this was victory for the workers.

"The UDM has been standing with the workers from day one, we even told the DA [Democratic Alliance] coalition government that workers must be paid, this is victory for the workers and the UDM is happy,” he said.

"The DA never even negotiated with the workers, thanks to the CCMA for invoking Section 50 of the Labour Relations Act in order to force this illegal DA government to the negotiations.

“We also salute the workers for not surrendering to the DA government. We salute the unions of worker's for standing up for the workers right because they are the pillars of this institution.

"The DA and Trollip must not claim victory because he never supported the back payments motion and it’s surprising to us when he say 'forward with workers'.”

Meanwhile, the African National Congress’ (ANC) Kholekile Bhoqwana said that the strike had a negative impact as it affected service delivery in the Metro.

"When workers fight for their rights, they must be heard. Workers made it possible by themselves to receive their back payments. The CCMA should have never been involved, we should have engaged with the workers and solved this matter," Bhoqwana said.

The EFF's Simphiwe Ntshiza said: "In our last council meeting, we said that there would be no other meetings held until the workers’ demands have been met by the DA-led coalition and today we are rejoicing with the workers."

The United Front said that this indicates that nothing is impossible while the AIC said that they hope that more of the worker's grievances will be solved.

The DA appreciated everyone, who played a role to ensure that workers got what wwas owed to them.

"We are happy that all parties supported the motion and soon our money is going to be paid, that's victory to the workers," said Mqondisi Nodongwe, the Regional Secretary of SAMWU.

Anthony Gallant, IMATU Chairperson, added; "We are happy that we have finally come to some form of conclusions and this has taken some form of life time with extremely tiring negotiations but we are glad that we finally came to a resolution.”