Monday, April 22, 2024
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No end in sight to WASCO woes


…as staffers down tools, demanding salary increment

Mohloai Mpesi

This week saw the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) continue to surf troubled waters, as its woes took strides after the infuriated staffers embarked on picketing this week demanding salary increase.

While one thought the water utility troubles ensuing from the administration and power spat between suspended Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Futho Hoohlo and the Board of Directors, was about to go to bed, WASCO made it to the headlines once again because of an exodus of its board members jumping ship, then this week staffers were up in arms as they demanded better packages.        

Earlier this week, the staffers reported to work, clocked in as expected but dragged their feet when they had to deliver from their work stations and never performed their duties in a demonstration to have the company answer to their requested 3.5% increment of their salaries and 5% of inflation adjustment.

Acting Chairman of the Board of Directors, Advocate Monaheng Seeiso Rasekoai addressed the mass yesterday, insinuating that he could not make any promises, thus sought an extension of time to work on the matter with the board and Minister of Water, Nkaku Kabi until next week Friday.

“I am a lawyer not a politician and I cannot make promises that I cannot keep. Allow us to go back and work on these issues and return with an answer next week. We are yet to draw up a financial structure that would determine whether we make an increment. I must assure you that the board has the interest to satisfy all the staffers,” Rasekoai said.

“We have to start at the point of humanity, if you have the management that does not answer to the needs of people then the company is set to suffer. There are channels of communications which must be adhered to since we all want the same thing which is service delivery because our company provides services to the nation,” he said.

He said there have been great challenges in the past three years since he came into the service of the company indicating that the prevailing challenge has been the distorted line of communication.

“The board cannot make a promise of increment without evaluating first whether its financial status allows making increments. As a company, you can only make increment when the finances allow that also considering the financial sustainability lest we end up retrenching people due to the company’s financial rough patch. These are issues that we have to take into consideration before deciding to make any percentage increase.

“After a week I will be able to provide a feedback with resolutions to these issues including the 3.5% increment which I realised that it did not follow the right procedures. I will meet with the minister to solve this matter, right now I cannot commit myself because if I agree to give you the increment, the question will be which money am I going to give out?

“To be sincere, this issue of 3.5% did not follow the right procedures and we have to fix it. We have a crisis of management, board or the ministry that does not have the interest of employees,” he said.

According to the Chief Legal Officer and Board Secretary, Realeboha Mathaba, the matters surrounding the failing projects are leadership issues and the incompetence of the management which is supposed to be flogged by the Board.

“The 3.5 per cent issue was raised before Executive Committee on January 28, 2020 when the budget was being prepared and he Union played its role. It was mentioned that it was a mistake that the request did not pass before the committee and we had to return for approval. It was then passed to board as 8.5 per cent of inflation adjustment as well as 3.5 per cent of salary increment.

“On February 24, 2020, the management made a directive to bring a well-motivated paper regarding the matter of 3.5 per cent and indicating how we should retain the skilled people who seem to be leaving the company.

“The Board was only aware of this matter last month and directed us to talk with the Union regarding to this matter and seek a way to solve the matter.

“What I want to guarantee is that the Board cares about the interests of this company’s employees and I pray that we adhere to what Adv. Rasekoai has said and allow the Board to work on this issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, although some employees rebuffed the idea of returning to work, the National Union of Commerce and Catering Workers Association (NUCCWA)’s member, Thuso Lengasa who explained that they have been sent from pillar to post regarding the resolution of the workers’ salary increment, urged the employees to return to work and wait for next Friday when the Board returns with a feedback.

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