No weekend outages after overtime policy decision

There were no water or power outages over the weekend as municipal workers returned to weekend work after a new overtime policy brought into effect two months ago was put on hold.

The impasse saw workers refuse to work overtime while residents in some areas were left without water or electricity over the weekends and after hours.

A majority within the council agreed that a six-month moratorium be placed on the policy after a robust debate on Thursday. The workers welcomed the news. A motion to have the policy scrapped altogether was brought by United Front councillor Mkhuseli Mtsila. But mayor Athol Trollip proposed that a moratorium be placed on it instead.

The motion was agreed upon with amendments to halt the policy for six months to allow for consultation with unions.

Previously, all employees could claim time-and-a-half for each hour of overtime worked on Saturdays and doubletime for work on Sundays.

Under the new policy, workers who earn below the R205 433 threshold could still claim according to the longstanding bargaining council agreement.

Those who earned more, however, could only claim normal rates or time owed. A plumber, who asked not to be named, said they were relieved to hear of the decision. “But our position remains the same – we want to be paid according to what is in the [collective agreement].

“We hope the unions and management can reach a decision that will be favourable to all workers because we don’t want to see another crisis.”

The New Brighton father of three said the new policy had affected his lifestyle negatively. Because he earns above the threshold, he did not qualify for the higher overtime rate.

“The past two months had been very difficult for me and my family because we have a lifestyle we had become used to and that was affected,” the plumber with five years’ experience said.

Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) regional manager Churchill Mothapo said the unions welcomed the decision.

“It will afford us the opportunity to sit down and thrash out issues,” he said.

Mothapo said they would now no longer pursue a declaration of dispute.

Bay infrastructure and engineering head Annette Lovemore confirmed no area-wide water or electricity outages had been reported at the weekend.

“We get on average 100 sewer blockages a day so the incidents were there. It was wonderful to have people back at work who could go out,” Lovemore said.

“It’s been a very sad time and going forward we need to make sure that we have a workable policy.”

She could not say when negotiations with the unions would start.

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