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Sol suspends 30 workers

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They will be suspended for three months with full salary and benefits

THIRTY of the 33 employees at the Sol Plaatje Municipality’s waterworks department were served with suspension letters on Tuesday for misconduct.

The workers have been facing suspension since last year.

They will be suspended for three months with full salary and benefits.

It has been claimed that the municipality is planning to outsource the work.

The last efforts by the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) to have the suspensions withdrawn failed during a pre-suspension meeting last week. Samwu now plans to approach the bargaining council for the decision to be reversed.

The local Samwu office said that the suspensions stem from a grievance regarding the appointment of a foreman, who the workers say was irregularly appointed.

The union said that specific workers were targeted due to them submitting grievances against their foreman.

According to the local secretary of Samwu, Nomathamsanqa Banda, the workers are accused of sabotaging the municipality and of being behind the numerous water pipe leakages in the city.

The workers accused the municipality of exploitation and have been refusing to do work that they claim they are not being paid for, while they say the municipality has threatened to stop paying them overtime.

Samwu yesterday expressed its shock at the decision as the workers were ready to resume work after a resolution was initially taken not to.

“We also want to know how the municipality is going to operate the section after suspending the entire workforce. It is a clear indication that the employer plans to outsource after cutting overtime to 30 hours,” added Banda.

“The main collective agreement states that 60 hours is allowed for overtime. This affects services in the refuse, waterworks, electricity and emergency departments.”

The union accused the municipality of “maladministration” and highlighted the case of the suspension of the municipal manager and the chief financial officer with full pay and the appointment of people to act in the positions, saying that this was “wasteful”.

“It is prepared to pay two employees for one key position but claims to be cutting costs by suspending people who are prepared to go the extra mile.

“The municipality said there is no money but it suspends 30 workers and then outsources for that work to be done. How is that even a cost-saving measure?”

The Sol Plaatje Municipality confirmed the suspensions for misconduct and added that it has no intention of outsourcing the work.

Municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie said that outsourcing is against the stated values of the municipality.

“For the record, we use, as and when needed, highly-specialised private skills on complex projects when we don’t have the skills inside the organisation. For instance in the case of the construction of the new pump station,” said Matsie.

“We have an obligation to provide a service to the community and all employees of the municipality are expected to do their work diligently at all times.”

Matsie added that whatever grievances the workers have with their current supervisors will be processed accordingly, just as happened with previous supervisors.

“All our employees have the right to approach relevant institutions such as the bargaining council should the need arise, there is nothing untoward in that action.”