KOUGA Municipality has yet again consulted with striking municipal employees in a bid to find a speedy resolution to the ongoing and illegal strike by SAMWU members to no avail.
According to Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, the employees, who first embarked on an illegal strike from 9 to 16 March and again from 31 March, after a Court Interdict preventing them from striking, are demanding that the 14 SAMWU shop stewards that were suspended after the strike, be reinstated with immediate effect. These shop stewards were found guilty of misconduct after an internal collective disciplinary process and have been given 10 days to submit reasons why they should not be dismissed.
“They, furthermore, insist that all no-work-no-pay remuneration be returned, striking employees not be subjected to disciplinary action and that they are paid a COVID-19 Allowance,” said Hendricks.
“Their insistence on having COVID-19 benefits that have not yet been decided on at a national level and subsequent actions, is unreasonable, irrational and unlawful.”
According to Hendricks, the municipality engaged with SAMWU shop stewards at the beginning of March and agreed that a formal process to resolve the matter, be followed.
“SAMWU leaders then entered into a Settle Agreement with the municipality – that they will not strike on the matter of COVID-19 Allowance until the matter was resolved at the CCMA.
“The CCMA, after considering the matter, transferred it to the National Bargaining Council (SALGBC).
“The Secretary of SAMWU was clearly advised by the municipality that the matter will be dealt with by the National Bargaining Council and that the settlement agreement, which prevented SAMWU from striking on the matter, remains intact.”
Hendricks said that, therefore, any decision to strike on the matter, will constitute an illegal and unlawful strike and will be in defiance of the said settlement agreement.
“On March 17, SALGBC issued a circular in which they confirmed that the issue of COVID-19 Allowance is a matter of National Bargaining and that LLF’s (Local Labour Forums) cannot consult or negotiate on it,” he said.
“Despite shop stewards being aware of the circular and the interim interdict, they have still misled SAMWU members to strike.”
Hendricks said, “The municipality will continue with the legal processes against the 14 suspended SAMWU shop stewards who have been charged with gross misconduct, as well as the few SAMWU members who are participating in the ongoing strike,” said Hendricks.
“It is, however, important to note that most municipal employees are working. It is only a small unruly faction of politically aligned SAMWU-members who are behind the intent to make the municipality ungovernable.”
According to Hendricks, alternative arrangements are in place to ensure that residents are not adversely affected by the ongoing strike, and that service delivery continues.
Just in case you haven’t yet seen it
KOUGA Municipality’s cash-backed draft budget and tariffs for the 2021/2022 financial year, starting July 1, were approved unanimously by Council on Wednesday, March 31.
This despite challenges such as maintaining an acceptable employee related cost ratio, curtailing electricity and water losses at acceptable levels and increases cost associated with bulk electricity purchases.
Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, said that every effort had been made to ensure that the budget was pro poor and fully funded.
The total draft budget amounts to just over R1 billion, of which just over R1 074 million is for the operating budget and R61 million is for the capital budget of the municipality.
“The operating budget will be funded from various sources, the major contributors being property rates (22.65%), bulk electricity (34.61%), sanitation (6.07%) and refuse (5.77%),” said Hendricks.
The total operating expenditure for the 2021/2022 financial year amounts to just over R1 074 million, with the major operating expenditure items being employee-related costs at over R378 million (35,24%) and bulk electricity purchase at over R290 million (26.99%).
In order to fund the operating budget, the following increases in property rates and service charges were approved, with effect from 1 July 2021:
Property rates: 5.25%
Environmental Management Fee: 0%
Hendricks said that the municipality had kept tariff increases as low as is possible.
“In some instances, especially when it comes to electricity, this proved to be a challenge, with Eskom increasing its bulk tariff to municipalities, he said.
“R10 million was set aside to cater for the ongoing road resealing project throughout Kouga – including Tokyo Sexwale and Pellsrus. The upgrading of gravel roads received a budget of R14.2 million.
“The Sea Vista Sports Field in St Francis Bay will, furthermore, be upgraded at a cost of R4.1 million this year, while the sanitation system in Hankey will be upgraded to the tune of R9.2 million.
“Other projects include the electrification of RDP houses at a cost of R6.7 million.”
Kouga Speaker, Hattingh Bornman, said, “Members of the ANC refused to comply with the Rules of Order and decided to leave the meeting at own will.
“We will continue to provide excellent services for all communities and build on previous successes in the next financial year.”
THE multicoloured, the blue . . . the preferred car guard.
In a renewed bid to clamp down on illegal car guards operating in Kouga – especially at the main beachfront and Central Business District (CBD) in Jeffreys Bay – Kouga Municipality equipped several preferred car guards with light blue outfits.
The first four car guards received their brand-new outfits last week, while more will receive their outfits later this month.
Community Services Portfolio Councillor, Daniel Benson, said a total of 20 car guards will receive new uniforms. “All the preferred car guards will be wearing identical and easily identifiable uniforms.”
The new uniform consists of a light blue jacket, with two orange reflector lines in the middle and at the bottom. Each car guard’s name and photo appear on his jacket.
They, furthermore, received a blue T-shirt and mask – also sporting their name and photo.
“This is in order to minimise the risk of other unpreferred car guards using the specific uniform,” said Benson. “We cannot afford having everyone calling themselves ‘car guards’ and having easy access to people’s vehicles and other valuables.”
The new uniform was sponsored by local businesses.
Benson encouraged motorists to make use of the preferred car guards to avoid risk of disappointment and loss.
“Let us support those who are making an effort to be presentable, polite and properly qualified to look after vehicles, so that we can eliminate those who tend to me more of a nuisance than helpful,” he said.
“While the preferred car guards will continue operating independently and are not officially employed by the municipality, there will be better coordination and they will be monitored closely to ensure they are sober and presentable. If any of them step out of line, they know they will lose their uniforms immediately.”
According to Benson, this is not a strategy to prevent people from making an income – it is about the safety of motorists and their belongings.
IS it a bird? Is it a plane?
It is the Easter Bunny with his superhero squad: Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, Elsa, and Anna. And they are all geared up to keep residents and holidaymakers entertained at the first Kouga Easter Festival this weekend.
The fun-filled carnival will kick-off on Thursday, April 1 and come to a close on Monday, April 5 – with the bulk of the action taking place at Dolphin Beach in Jeffreys Bay.
“The programme includes the action-packed Je’Vista One Touch Rugby Tournament – one of the biggest highlights on the sports calendar,” said Kouga Executive Mayor, Horatio Hendricks. “The tournament will see 20 teams of eight players each taking to the field – or rather beach.”
The tournament will take place on both Friday and Saturday.
“Soccer fans are also in for a treat, with the JBay Easter Soccer Tournament taking place at the Tokyo Sexwale Sports Stadium, Pellsrus Sports Field and Jeffreys bay Comprehensive High School,” said Hendricks.
“An open water swim competition, the Marina Mile, will be added to the sports mix at Marina Martinique on Saturday, April 3.”
Registration is at 08:00, followed by the Double Mile (two laps) at 09:00 – kicking off the swimming event.
The Half Mile will take to the water at 10:30, while the Bank-to-Bank Race will splash off at 11:00. There is also a Bank-to-Bank swim for boys and girls under 6 at 11:15, and a Bank-to-Bank swim for boys and girls under 8 at 11:20. A Bank-to-Bank swim for children under 10 will take place at 11:30.
Also on the swimming programme is the Marina Mile for men at 12:00 and the Marina Mile for ladies at 12:10.
According to Hendricks, there will be a feast of children’s activities for the duration of the carnival, which young ones will be able to enjoy for free on the Saturday.
Children can build their own sandcastle or paint an easter egg. They can furthermore enjoy a magician and puppet show, show their strength at a tug of war competition COVID-19 style or hunt for delicious easter eggs and hidden treasures.
They must make sure not to miss the Easter Bunny or his superhero friends Superman, Spiderman, and Iron Man. Elsa and Anna from Frozen will also be at the carnival.
Competitions for young and old include an ice-cream eating competition, a big boep competition and a junior comedian competition, as well as a hula-hoop competition.
Also on the competition line-up are the mother & daughter look-alike competition, the best hat of the day competition and a talent contest.
There will also be various food stalls.
The festival will end with a special beach church service on the Monday.
“Due to COVID-19, no spectators will be allowed at any of the sporting events,” said Hendricks.
“Kouga Municipality Disaster Volunteers will also be on duty to ensure that festival-goers adhere to COVID-19 regulations for the duration of the carnival. Further COVID-19 regulations that will be in place, include free masks, free sanitiser, contact free entertainment, social distancing markers and COVID-19 posters.”
There has been a slight increase in the number of active COVID-19 cases in the Kouga region.
Active Covid-19 cases totalled 11 on March 30, according to the latest report from the Department of Health. This is an increase of three active cases since March 27.
Some 126 residents have died.
The breakdown per town, as at March 30, was as follows: Jeffreys Bay 6, St Francis 3, Humansdorp 1, Thornhill (1), Patensie 0, Oyster Bay 0, Hankey 0 and Loerie 0.
The hotspot areas are Jeffreys Bay Central (6), St Francis Bay (3), Humansdorp Town (1) and Thornhill (1).
The cumulative total stood at 5 408, including, 5 271 recoveries.