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Legislature up in smoke over pay ‘system glitch’


The introduction of a new system saw workers not being paid.

Pictures: Danie van der Lith

JUST weeks before the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature reconvenes, the institution is embroiled in a pay debacle.

A cloud of smoke engulfed the entrance to the legislature building yesterday as staff protested and burnt tyres after a “system glitch” saw them not receiving their salaries for May.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) branch chairperson Ntsikelelo Tshandu said that this affected all full-time employees.

“We were informed on Tuesday by means of a letter that we would not receive our monthly salary on May 15 as a result of problems with the payroll system. This is totally unacceptable. We have been here for more than 10 years and this is the first time that this has ever happened. This smacks of poor management,” Tshandu said.

According to Tshandu, it is believed that the so-called system glitch was actually negligence on the part of the employer. “The payroll is normally done before month end. Why was it done two days before our pay date this time? It’s a clear indication that there is a serious management problem at the legislature.”

Tshandu also wanted to know why there was there no contingency plan to ensure that employees were paid on time. “This is carelessness and negligence of the highest order for a state institution.”

He said that the executive manager of human resources is also the acting supply chain manager. “This is the very reason why we call on management to ensure that there are competent people to do the work. At this point, we are calling for the removal of the executive manager of human resources.”

Tshandu pointed out that employees now risk losing their “good credit records” as a result of debit orders bouncing. “Who is going to take responsibility for that? Who is going to pay for the returned debit orders?”

Tshandu further stated that it was a “slap in members’ faces” that the legislature secretary, who is believed to be out of town, could not send a representative to address them.

He added that yesterday’s protest action did not affect operations at the legislature.

A group of approximately 40 protesters set tyres alight yesterday, sending huge plumes of smoke into the air and making it impossible to enter the legislature grounds.

The Northern Cape Provincial Legislature (NCPL) said yesterday that the glitch in the paying of staff was due to the implementation of a new pay system.

The acting executive manager for committees research, information services, public education and communications, Nathalia Borchard, said in a statement yesterday that the system errors experienced by the legislature had to do with the implementation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system which was imposed as a legislative requirement.

“In brief, this system change was a migration from BAS and Persal systems to an ERP system. All efforts to avoid the current system errors or to at least resolve them were rendered difficult due to the fact that NCPL employees have not worked from the NCPL premises since April 8, 2019 due to safety concerns.

“The system consultants are however hard at work to resolve the system errors but there are no staff to check and capture payroll issues since they are outside the premises and some were not allowed to enter the premises today (yesterday).”

Borchard added that protesting workers had adversely affected the normal operations of the NCPL.

She went on to say that management is continuing the engagements with systems controllers in an attempt to ensure that all salaries are processed as soon as possible.

“The NCPL cannot give an indication of when employees will be paid as this is dependent on having the requisite personnel in office in order to execute the work related to payroll.”

She said that given the serious nature of the inconvenience caused by these system errors, management has made a commitment to engage with employee representatives in order to find an amicable solution to the problems associated with financial loss suffered by the employees.