Treasury to bail out Northern Cape municipality over unpaid workers

GroundUp reports that the National Treasury is likely to step in and help pay salaries to municipal workers from the Renosterberg Local Municipality in the Northern Cape. This follows a week-long unprotected strike by workers demanding that the municipality pay their December salaries, among other things. The municipality has not been able to pay workers or its debtors after its bank account was frozen, apparently through a court order to recover millions of rands owed to Eskom. Spokesperson for the power utility, Sikonathi Mantshantsha, told GroundUp that the municipality owes Eskom over R105 million. He said Eskom was granted an attachment order, making it the custodian of the state bank account. This, Mantshantsha said, would allow Eskom to recoup the funds owed. He said Eskom was negotiating with the municipality about the issue but he could not share details publicly because negotiations were “at a sensitive stage”.

On Monday, the Northern Cape’s Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs MEC Bentley Vass addressed workers. Department spokesperson Babalwa Mzambo said the National Treasury was looking at ways to pay workers. The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) in a statement said, “Of great concern is that the municipality has failed to communicate with workers as to when their salaries will be paid.” Peter Demas, regional secretary at SAMWU, said the municipality has since gone back to court to regain control of its bank account. The matter is yet to be finalised, he said. SAMWU shop steward Zolani De Klerk said that the workers would only return to duty once they have been paid. 

by Liezl Human

Releated

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