Pressure to change municipal pay rules
JEANNE VAN DER MERWE AND ATHANDIWE SABA
PRESSURE is mounting to change the rules that allows municipal managers to earn more than cabinet ministers.
Unions hope that regulations in the works at the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs will rein in the huge pay packages of municipal managers and their deputies, which fall outside the collective wage negotiations of the South African Local Government Association.
Current regulations governing senior municipal officials’ pay hikes require that pay hikes be linked to an increase in the cost of living and not necessarily performance.
Tahir Sema, spokesman for the South African Municipal Worker’s Union, said managers in six metros earned more than their political bosses.
“Tshwane city manager Jason Ngobeni and his Johannesburg counterpart, Trevor Fowler, after the absurd increases of about 20%, will earn R3.25m and R3.23m a year from 1 July 2012,” he said, compared to President Jacob Zuma’s R2.5m-a-year package.
“It is ridiculous that these managers get paid millions, even though the municipalities they work for are plagued with corruption, nepotism, crisis and the poor delivery of services.”
Imatu president Stanley Khoza pointed out during the recently-concluded negotiations that govern the next three years’ municipal wage increases, most municipal managers earn salaries 1000 times higher than the lowest paid municipal employees.
“It is very difficult for us to take the employer seriously when they plead poverty at the negotiating table yet can afford to give some municipal managers a 20% wage increase. With many tiers of local government still plagued with poor supply chain management, poor financial controls, bribery and corruption – how can these managerial salary increases be justified?”
Adcorp labour economist Loane Sharp said there was no connection between remuneration and performance in the public sector.
“At junior levels in government, trade unions have refused to allow performance agreements to be put in place. At senior levels, there is often an inverse relationship between remuneration and performance.
“In the public sector wage increases (+5.6%) are now substantially higher than labour productivity growth (-1.2%),” he said.
Nghamula Nkuna, spokesman for the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, explained that the unequal pay dispensation for municipal managers and other department heads evolved after the 1996 repeal of the Remuneration of Town Clerks Act, which enabled councils to negotiate salaries individually.
The Municipal Systems Act was amended last year, allowing the national minister to regulate municipal managers and their deputies, and Nkuna said “substantial work has been undertaken to develop regulations that will deal with the remuneration that will be payable to these senior managers in municipalities”.
“The envisaged Regulations will provide for maximum thresholds that will be informed by a grading model, and will be applicable to all municipalities.”
Nkuna said the regulations would also consider the powers and functions of different municipalities, whether councils could afford the salaries and the fiscal capacities of the municipalities.