More perks for councillors: SAMWU sees red

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) is disappointed to learn about the latest perks for councillors, speakers and mayors.

The South African Local Government Association (Salga) released a circular in which it announced the new perks as gazetted by the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Des van Rooyen.

The new perks, which will be backdated to July 1, 2017, affords councillors a R3 400 cellphone allowance plus a further R300 data allowance a month.

“These allowances are shocking, particularly given the fact that unlimited cellphone contracts which are inclusive of both data and unlimited calls cost way less than R2 000. This leads one to conclude that these benefits are intended to increase councillors’ salaries, as one wonders who they call because they never return calls from community members,” the Samwu secretariat said in a statement.

“Municipal workers are left to subsidise the employer by using their own cellphones when performing their duties. These are people who are responsible for ensuring that South Africans receive services, yet they are not provided with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) so they can safely perform their duties.

“Municipal workers are also forced to work unpaid extended hours in their offices because they have not been provided with laptops, yet all councillors will be receiving laptops and tablets for purposes only known to Salga and COGTA.”

Samwu said the most shocking revelation was that mayors, council speakers and their deputies would automatically qualify to have bodyguards without any threat assessment being done.

“This is a blatant abuse of resources which could have otherwise been redirected towards service delivery and the better remuneration of municipal workers. This provision will also be open to abuse by councils, as it does not set the maximum number of bodyguards to be assigned, taking into consideration the experiences of Mogalakwena Local Municipality, wherein 20 bodyguards were assigned to one individual.

“Mayors will also enjoy free accommodation at the expense of ratepayers while councillors will receive over R6 500 in housing allowances. This despite the fact that Salga does not want to budge on the demand of a R2 000 housing allowance, offering a mere R700, which is only given to workers who can prove home ownership,” Samwu added.

“In addition to these luxurious and wasteful perks, councillors will now be offered a special risk cover which is inclusive of comprehensive insurance for their homes, vehicles and life cover.

“As though it was not enough, councillors would be paid a further R1 024 a day for every sitting of district municipal councils in addition to their monthly salaries. This sitting allowance defies logic and further creates an impression that municipalities are like company boards, where individuals get paid to attend board meetings. Councillors should not be paid sitting allowances because they were elected to sit in those meetings and they do get their monthly salaries.

“As we prepare for the second round of negotiations, we will remind Salga that these perks have been an indication to municipal workers that the time to plead poverty is over. By virtue of extending these benefits to councillors, municipal workers have concluded that the money is indeed there to cater for the demands which they have put forward.”

Kempton Express

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