THE Port Elizabeth Labour Court has temporarily interdicted the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality from docking the salaries of 70 senior managers, who were apparently mistakenly overpaid more than R40-million over a three-year period.
This comes after the managers headed to court on Friday to overturn a decision by the South African Local Government Bargaining Council, taken in February, to correct alleged overpayments to the staff.
The Herald previously reported that an inquiry had found thatthe 70 employees had been overpaid by more than R40-million since the mistakenpayments started in 2010, which were backdated to July 2009.
The directors and assistant directors were apparently mistakenly included in the implementation of pay parity for municipal staff from Uitenhage and Despatch in 2010.
This was after those staff complained they were being paid less than their Port Elizabeth counterparts, despite performing the same tasks, following the formation of the metro in 2000.
Earlier this year, acting municipal manager Themba Hani gave the go- ahead to correct the alleged overpayments by shaving the salaries of the 70 senior managers, which included directors and assistant directors. Some employees were allegedly being overpaid by up to R20000 a month.
Deductions were scheduled to start tomorrow but on Friday Judge Zolashe Lallie granted an interim interdict preventing the municipality from deducting any money until November 14, when the matter is scheduled to return to court for a final decision.
The managers' attorney, Minnaar Niehaus, argued that his clients were not given an explanation as to why it was claimed they were overpaid in the first place.
"We still need to know why my clients were overpaid or on what basis this is claimed. The media is wildly reporting the so-called reasons for the deductions yet not even the municipality's court papers explain this," Niehaus said.
He told the court that a private arbitration needed to be called.
Submissions made by both the municipality and its employees will be reviewed and the presiding judge will then be expected to make a final ruling.
Hani said the municipality would meet with its legal team this week to discuss how best to proceed.
"We still need to study the judgment and make a decision on how we plan to approach this in court in November. Until then, we will honour the ruling of the court," Hani said.