Govt, unions set up team to deal with service delivery

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pretoria - Government and unions have partnered to form a Ministerial Strategic Team to deal with service delivery challenges and wage negotiations, among others things. 

"The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) will form part of the newly established Ministerial Strategic Team," said Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka on Wednesday.

Mr Shiceka said the team will play a lead role in avoiding the conflict between the employer, labour unions and the community, while addressing the root causes of the prevailing challenges.

"We have taken this initiative because we believe that for workers to accelerate good quality services to the masses in local government they must be a good working relationship between the employer body and the labour unions. 

"The challenges faced by our municipalities need a collective approach as government alone cannot resolve these issues. 

"In this way, we want to work together in pursuit of strategic repositioning of municipalities in order to respond to these prevailing challenges," he said. 

The team will also comprise of members from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), National Treasury, Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs as well as the Department of Public Service and Administration. 

Mr Shiceka said the team will advise stakeholders on appropriate interventions to deal with the prevailing challenges in municipalities.

"The team will also investigate the genesis of the current service delivery challenges including fraud and corruption as well as assist stakeholders to develop a turnaround strategy in local government. 

"They will also undertake a comparative assessment of the wage gap between the highest paid employee and the lowest salaried worker in municipalities," the minister said.

Labour unions and the SALGA have welcomed the establishment of the Ministerial Strategic Team, which is expected to start its work next week.

SAMWU President Petrus Mashishi said they have been pushing for the establishment of a similar structure for years and now they are happy about the new team. 

"We are ... a transformed organisation committed to the improvement of quality services to the masses. We can't wait any longer to make our contribution (through the Ministerial Strategic Team)," he said. 

IMATU President Danie Carstens said they were also happy to be part of a team which aims to improve the well-being of the poor. 

"We've already identified some of the root causes of the poor service delivery in our municipalities, so the establishment of this team will give us a platform to deal with those issues," he said. 

The SALGA Deputy Chairperson Sophie Molokoane-Machika said: "People must not view the initiative as a strategy to weaken the trade unions, but as an effort to fast track service delivery to the people." 

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