Anger as councillors get pay rise but staff miss out

By Sihle Mavuso

A decision by the executive council of the ANC-run Ray Nkonyeni local municipality in southern KwaZulu-Natal to leave workers out during negotiations for salary, allowance and benefit adjustments has caused anger. 

This was after a letter regarding the matter was leaked and it became public knowledge. Some workers tried to bypass their union and get answers from the municipality when they went to a council meeting last week to protest the issue.

The issue of the salary, allowance and benefit adjustments started in 2016 when the then Ezinqoleni municipality was merged with the Hibiscus Coast municipality to form the present-day Ray Nkonyeni municipality, anchored in Port Shepstone.  

The merger improved its fortunes and it became a category 5 local municipality, taking it shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of the City of Umhlathuze in the north of KZN. 

However, despite the merger leading to an increased workload, the municipality delayed adjusting salaries and other benefits, causing discontent among staff members who felt left out.  

The discontent widened early this year when a leaked letter showed that the council wrote to Bongi Sithole-Moloi, the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, to seek her approval to adjust benefits and salaries for councillors. 

In a letter written and signed by Sithole-Moloi on 24 October 2023, the council’s wish was granted. Salaries, allowances and benefits for councillors were adjusted, but the workers were left out.  

“The effective date of this notice is 1 July 2022,” Sithole-Moloi wrote in her letter, meaning that the councillors would be paid back pay. 

According to employees in the municipality, some of the councillors have already been paid back pay and they have pocketed “a lot of money” in the process.  

“This is simply sad,” an employee told Scrolla.Africa. “We were all supposed to benefit. Instead, the council negotiated for councillors and senior managers and left junior employees out. This has led to low morale in the workplace.” 

The spokesperson of the municipal, Simon April said: “The MEC by law determines the remuneration of Councillors, Municipal Manager, and Senior Managers reporting directly to the Municipal Manager, unlike the one for employees below Senior Managers which is determined by the SALGA Bargaining Council. 

“The MEC determined the remuneration, and not necessarily the grade or category of the municipality. The matter of the upgrading or the category of the municipality is still the subject of discussions by the Bargaining Council.”

Pictured above: Ray Nkonyeni local municipality. 

Image source: Ray Nkonyeni local municipality


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