The Independent Municipal and Allied Workers Union (IMATU) will today oppose the mass retrenchment of municipal workers at the Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality in Kwa Zulu Natal.

“The Municipality’s organogram makes provision for close to 1000 employees, while it currently only employs 598 people and intends to retrench 248 of these employees. This is a blatant attempt by the Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality to reduce expenditure by downsizing municipal staff as opposed to addressing the real problem of poor financial management. IMATU is aware of specific instances of mismanagement and despite our claims being substantiated by the Auditor General’s report, no attempts have been made by the Administrators to improve accountability or implement consequences for poor performance or dereliction of duty,” explained eThekwini Regional Manager, Cathi Botes.

The municipality was established in 2016 after the amalgamation of the Imbabazane and uMtshezi local municipalities. Despite its fairly new establishment, the municipality was placed under Administration by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in 2017 and its financial woes have only gotten worse.

Last year the Municipality sought to unilaterally adjust and deduct employees’ salaries, thereafter it claimed that it was not able to pay any annual increases and most recently the Municipality has advised that it is intent on reducing its workforce. As a result of IMATU’s intervention workers have been protected, however no tangible effort has been made by the Administrators to produce sustainable solutions.

“Municipal management should be focused on addressing their unsustainable financial practices instead of attempting to retrench half their workforce which will directly affect service delivery. A recent example of flagrant financial waste is the outsourcing of security contracts to ‘protect’ the very councillors who are failing their communities and now threatening workers with unemployment. It has been reported to IMATU that some councillors have been assigned up to three personal protection agents, an excessive cost for a financially distressed municipality intent on retrenching half of its workforce,” stated Botes.

Municipalities are constitutionally mandated to provide services to communities in a sustainable manner. The municipal workforce is pivotal in ensuring the provision of these services and the salaries of workers must be provided for in any municipality’s budget. Despite claims made last year by the Inkosi Langalibalele Municipality that they could not afford annual salary increases, IMATU can confirm that the municipality’s financial statements reflected R 131 688 000 surplus in 2017-18 financial year.

“IMATU will vehemently oppose any threats to the conditions of service or job security of our members. Retrenchment of workers is a short-tern solution to the systemic problems facing so many of our municipalities. A clear, sustainable solution must be found that addresses inefficiencies but most importantly tackles the real problems of poor management and financial irregularities,” concluded Botes.

Members will be kept updated of any developments in this regard.