Editorial | Resolve overtime crisis speedily

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Even those who are not financial managers should be aware that overspending on a budget is to be avoided.
Therefore, it was disturbing to learn this week that the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality had paid out R121m in overtime for the first six months of the financial year.
It was even more perturbing to read that if the trend continues, it will have blown its budget by R60m by the end of June.
Our report highlights several concerns.
Acting city manager Peter Neilson has drawn attention to what he sees as the root cause of the overspending, by noting that our metro works one shift only where others around the country work three.
This in effect means that anyone working at night, for example, or over a weekend will in effect be working “overtime” rather than simply working his or her “shift”.
However, it is obvious that in a metro the size of Nelson Mandela Bay not every employee can work on an eight-hour, single shift basis. There are simply too many services needed after hours, or even 24 hours a day.
If extra shifts are added this leads to the question of staffing those shifts.
Does the municipality’s organogram have to be updated to direct resources in the form of extra staff to certain departments? We encourage the metro to prioritise it and Neilson himself has said the organogram must change.
Then there is the fact that certain departments contain their costs better than others. We must ask if these departments need more staff or is it a management question?
The metro’s labour department also has its part to play as Samwu this week reportedly said there were vacancies which, if filled, would reduce overtime claims.
This also thus needs to be addressed.
Then, outside of this, there is also an issue of timely consultation with relevant stakeholders, such as Samwu.
However, these talks have been delayed for months as the council does not yet have its own processes clear.
This situation must not be allowed to continue for much longer because it is putting an unnecessary strain on the city’s coffers.

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